Let’s Talk Fueling……. – Part 3

This is the last installment on fueling. Let me start by saying that this is what I’ve tried and what seems to be working for me. Everyone is different, and you need to figure out what works for you. Some of the things that you need to look at though are electrolytes, water intake, and calories. Those things can be taken in many different forms. Calories for everyone doesn’t mean sugar just like water isn’t necessarily plain water, and electrolytes can come as pills, gels, liquids, or real food. Experiment and figure out what works!

Metabolic Efficiency Training (MET) seems to be working for me with the use of Ucan and Osmo for my long workouts. I added the Osmo for the electrolytes since that’s what I think has been my problem on a few rides. Osmo has 9g of carbs per serving which is lower than most other electrolyte drinks, so it doesn’t spike blood sugars like some gels can, and with Ucan, spiking blood sugar is counteractive to what it does. A nice side effect of MET, for the first time in 2 years of running and training, I’m finally seeing weight drop off, and it’s without limiting how much I eat. I’ve actually dropped over 13 lbs in about 3 weeks simply by following MET and using Ucan for long training sessions. This wasn’t my goal in using MET and Ucan, but it’s a nice side effect!

I’ve now had 2 rides over 50 miles with the Ucan and Osmo with a 30 minute run after. Each time I’ve had 3 scoops of Ucan with protein (300 calories) and a Pure Protein bar (200 calories) prior to the ride. For most people, I’d guess it’d be too much protein, but I haven’t had any GI issues with it, and it seems to work. Over the last few months, I’ve started to realize my body needs more protein. On my bike, I carried 4 servings of Osmo (140 calories, 36g carbs, 720mg of sodium) mixed in 40 ounces of water and 2 scoops of Ucan without protein (160 calories, 42g carbs, 320mg sodium) mixed in 24 ounces of water.

Both rides have gone well, but I have felt like I was having to force myself to drink the Ucan on the bike even though I didn’t feel like I needed it. The first ride, I made sure I drank the entire 24 ounces, and honestly, I felt great, but I just wasn’t sure that I needed it, and I only got in about half or 20 ounces of my electrolyte drink. The second ride, I only managed to drink about 8 ounces of the Ucan, and I still felt great, but I was able to get in 35 ounces of my electrolyte drink. Neither ride was super hot, but I’m thinking that for the Augusta 70.3, I may actually want to just take extra Osmo instead of the Ucan on the bike if it is really hot. I will carry some type of gel or bar just in case I need the calories either way, and I’ll continue to experiment with this over my next few long rides.

On my run, I’ll carry a handheld with 2 servings of Osmo (70 calories, 360mg sodium) in it. This is the part that I’m most concerned about. I won’t get a feel as to how I’ll be holding up during the long run after the bike since those runs are always short in training, but I plan to carry a gel or two just in case, and I’m sure I might have to resort to some of the course offerings as well.

Now, in case you haven’t done the math, not including my 500 calories breakfast, I will only be taking in 300 calories max on the bike and another 70 on the run, so for a HIM, that’s a total of 370 calories over about 7 hours(I hope). Yes, it scares me too which is why I’ll carry a bar and couple of gels just in case, but today went well and I only took in about 177 calories on a 3 hour 20 minute bike ride followed by a 30 minute run.

Bottom line, go out and experiment with what you think you might want to use on race day! I still am.

Next up……. what’s your biggest fear the night before a race? Yep, mine came true.

Let’s talk fueling….. – Part 2

After my rough ride following the sprint, I decided to start looking into a liquid fuel source during my bike rides, but 1000 calories was still overwhelming to me, so once again, I relied on just eating and drinking when I wanted to on the next long ride of 37 miles.  With no plan, my next ride went ok on a flat course on a cool rainy day, but I didn’t feel like I could finish 56 miles on the bike and 13.1 running with no plan since I hardly drank or ate anything much, and I felt like crud for the next 2 days. My body felt tired, run down, and sore, but that was nothing new. I had been feeling like this after every long ride for a while. I had taken in about 25 ounces of water and 300 calories on that ride, and my recovery was bad…again. Something had to change.

After talking to a friend who mentioned Ucan, I went home and looked it up and started reading about it. It intrigued me. People using it were claiming to do Half and Full Ironmans on very few calories during the race. It was supposed to level out the glycogen spikes, keep glycogen levels more consistent, and allow your body to burn fat for energy better. Well now, I have lots of fat to use for energy, so I asked my coach if he’d heard of it or tried it. He had used it last year mainly for long course racing, and he said it worked pretty well, but he said you had to combine it with a lower carb diet & cut out sugar. He’d been telling me I needed to do this for a while anyway, but since I’m an admitted carb addict I had been very slow about cutting these things out. I’d lowered them a lot, but the sugar wasn’t completely gone. I did feel better with less sugar, but I wasn’t sure about totally getting rid of it, so I read more about Ucan. People were talking about using the metabolic efficiency diet (lifestyle) with it, so I looked this up as well and found an article explaining the science behind metabolic efficiency training (MET) at http://www.usatriathlon.org/about-multisport/multisport-zone/fuel-station/articles/make-your-body-metabolically-efficient-012412.aspx. If USAT (oh yeah, and my coach for the last couple of months, but remember, I admitted that I’m hard headed and stubborn already) is recommending MET, then maybe I should give it a try, and while I was at it, I’d try to use the Ucan with it.

My next ride was a disaster still. It was the mini-tri training day at Clay’s lake house. I won’t rehash the details from my earlier post, but let’s just say I felt pretty dizzy and lightheaded at the end of the ride and even worse at the end of the run. I had tried using 3 scoops of Ucan with protein before the workout that day and some Ucan during the ride, so I thought perhaps it was a lack of calories. I had brought a couple of gels with me on the ride just in case, so I took one around 30 miles and another around 40. I should have felt something from those if it was a lack of calories, but they didn’t help at all. I seemed to be getting worse. I had also gone through about 60 ounces of water and 24 ounces of water mixed with 2 scoops of Ucan. Have you paid attention to my previous water intake? It usually averages in the 20’s-30’s when I’ve felt ok. No worries, I hadn’t caught onto this yet either. After this ride, I grumbled some (read a lot) to my coach about this, that, and the other. A lot of it included complaining about the HR zones I have to stay in and that I had to walk to stay in them Saturday, and his response was very positive and a bit like talking me off a cliff. I responded still very frustrated, and I think he decided to let me mull things over a day.

After thinking about his response and the heat on Saturday that he’d mentioned, I replied agreeing that he was probably correct about the heat being an issue. Since I had stepped down from the cliff, I could now have a better conversation about what went wrong. He mentioned his ride on Saturday, and the calories and water he took in. I then told him I had taken in plenty of water and didn’t feel dehydrated. I had pretty much doubled my water intake. His response, “that’s good. The only thing I’d like to see more of is an electrolyte. In the heat you have to up your sodium or you’re going to really feel it.” Hmmm…. electrolytes, such a little thing, but oh how it can make a world of difference. Notice, I haven’t mentioned those anywhere in my post about fueling. Fueling is more than water and calories. Electrolytes are an important part too. I KNOW THIS! Why didn’t I think of this before? Now, I looked back at the rides where I’ve really felt horrible.

Remember the first bad ride? I drank 4 bottles of water, so 67 ounces of water just prior to riding. Did I take any electrolytes with that water? Nope! 2nd bad ride, I drank around 80 ounces of liquid on the ride with only the sodium in the 2 packs of Ucan. I only finished about 2/3 of the Ucan over the entire ride, so by mile 30, my sodium intake was even less than 2/3rds, maybe 215mg of the 480mg of sodium in the entire 2 packs. I was behind the 8 ball, feeling like crap, and I tried 2 Gu’s late in the ride which gave me 250mg of sodium on a sweltering hot day finishing the ride around noon. My total intake ended up being around 570mg of sodium by the time I finished the 45 mile ride. Then, I went on to run for 35 minutes without anything but water. Both of these rides had huge increases in water for me because of the heat, but no increase in electrolytes. Coach Chuck said I was probably flushing out my electrolytes. Yep, I’ve heard of this before, and I completely understand and know better, but sometimes, that person looking from the outside can see a little clearer. Another reason I hired a coach.

Now, since I didn’t feel hungry or like calories were the issue, time to find a solution for the electrolytes.

-Next, what I “think” works for me and will be my plan for the HIM

Let’s talk fueling…. -part 1

Throughout my half marathon and marathon training and races I’ve always used gels, specifically Roctane and Gu.  I’ve never felt that I’ve needed anything more.  My rule was always if I was going over an hour and a half I’d use them starting around 45-50 minutes.  For my half marathons, I would take one before the race, one around 4.5 miles, and one around 9 miles.  I followed the same timing for my marathon training, and I never thought I felt like I was dragging or needed more energy, but taking 5 gels during the marathon plus one before was a LOT of gel.  For me though, since I’m not a 3-4 hour marathoner, it was going to be necessary.

Now that I’m training for a Half Ironman, I’m in need of even more fuel during the race, and the thought of taking in more gel than I had to for a marathon is just insane!  My coach suggests replacing half of the calories you burn during the bike portion of the race while on the bike.  For me, I burn 550-750 calories per hour on the bike.  Yes, I REALLY do.  I’m not a small girl and my HR tends to run high, so my calorie burn is high.  For the HIM, this means that I’ll burn 1925-2625 calories if I finish the bike in 3.5 hours.  Coach Chuck also sent me a link ( http://lavamagazine.com/firstendurance-qa/ ) from Lava Magazine to an interview in which Robert Kunz said, “I’ll tell you what, I have one piece of advice that will fix 95-percent of people’s fueling problems that lead to gut  distress: You have to calculate all of the calories you consume and then you have to look at all of the fluids that you consume before you race and go from there. You want to consume 100 calories to every 12 ounces of fluid, minimum. Never any less than that. Obviously formulas differ, but if your concentrations are higher it’s likely that the osomlality will be too high and you won’t be emptying fluid from your gut but pulling it from your bloodstream and into your gut. And that is when all the gut problems start. And that can start simply by having a 200-calorie bar and not having enough fluid with it. Osmolality determines which way fluid travels. You want the water to flow from your gut, not into it.”  I’ve always drank plenty while running with the Gu, so I’ve never had GI issues, so this made sense to me. I didn’t know how much fluid I should be taking in on the bike, so this gave me a good starting point. According to my calculations, I needed to take in 275-375 calories per hour and 33-45 ounces of water per hour. Hmmmm…… that didn’t sound horrible until I started thinking about being on the bike for 3.5 hours. That would be 962-1312 calories and 115-157 ounces of water. Wow! That’s a lot of Gu and water.  9-13 Gu’s to be exact since they contain about 100 calories.  Um, yeah, that’s not happening without me throwing up, so I needed something else.

Cliff bars have about 250, so I decided I’d give them a try and take in 700 calories (the lower end of the scale) on a 2.5 hour ride.  Two Cliff bars and 2 Gu’s would be 700 calories.  That sounded reasonable.  I would also need 84 ounces of water on the ride if I went with the 12 ounces per 100 calories rule.  At the time, I could carry about 75 ounces on my bike, and I hadn’t gotten any where near that amount drank previously (usual average was 24-35 ounces), so I figured this was a good starting point.  The ride that day wasn’t terribly hot, and I managed to take in the two Gu’s and about 1 & 3/4 of the two Cliff bars.  I had broken the Cliff bars into small chunks, so they were easy to grab.  I felt like I was continuously grabbing something to eat out of my bag, and this wasn’t really what I wanted to have to do in a race with lots of people.  I prefer to keep both my hands on my aerobars.  Drinking was another story.  I have regular water bottles, so I tend to only drink when I stop, so I only managed to get in my regular amount of 30ish ounces on the ride.  I didn’t seem to have any GI issues from it though, so no problem there for that day, but on race day, I’d still have another hour to ride plus a 13.1 mile run.  This probably wasn’t going to work.  For me, the amount of eating and drinking I needed just wasn’t going to happen.  Time to find another way.

Naturally, the best thing to try next is to just forget all that you read and were told, and just eat and drink when you feel like it.  This would be the I’m just annoyed and too hard headed to listen approach, so I’ll just do what I feel like.  Forgetting all that Coach Chuck had suggested and the info he’d sent, I had a sprint tri the next week followed by a long ride and t-run.  Who needs to worry about this fueling non-sense for a sprint tri?  Honestly, you don’t.  As Coach Chuck says, “You can fake your way through short course races with no nutrition plan.  You will be exposed in an HIM or IM.”  I completed the sprint tri without any fuel other than my breakfast and water, and I felt fine.  The problem that day arose later, on my long ride.

It was quite hot by the time we had finished the sprint, and I didn’t drink much water on my bike, and I didn’t carry my handheld on the run, so I only grabbed a cup of water at the aid station, so by the time I finished, I was pretty thirsty, and I quickly downed a 16.9 ounce bottle of water.  As, we hung around and waited for everyone to finish and to hear the awards for the next hour or so, I drank 3 more 16.9 ounce bottles of water.  I also drank a protein drink they had right after I finished, but I have no idea how many calories it had in it.  I’m guessing not nearly enough for what I had ahead.  After the awards, we headed to where we were going to start our bike ride.  By this time, it was 11:00AM, and I’d eaten a fairly light breakfast, a protein drink, and a couple of orange slices along with drinking LOTS of water.  I wasn’t veering a little off track for a nutrition plan.  I had totally ditched any plan.

Needless to say, the ride that ensued was one of the absolute hardest rides I had done to date.  At that time though, I hadn’t thought through what I had done that day or what could have caused it.  I just figured it was because it was a different route, and it was after the sprint tri.  I’m not saying that those two things didn’t have anything to do with how difficult the ride was, but I’m pretty sure they weren’t the main culprits, but I wouldn’t think about this until about 3 weeks later.

–stay tuned to hear more about my fueling issues






Augusta 70.3 Peak racing Training Camp – Dinner & Day 2

Saturday night ended with dinner and more discussion with the Peak Racing coaches in a conference room at the hotel.  During dinner we heard from Coach Josh and Coach Chuck on nutrition and hydration.  They both spoke about how they fuel, and some of the different products out there as well as glycogen stores in your body and how your training HR zones affect your energy source.  70.3 races are a different animal, and learning to fuel and hydrate for them is much different than half marathons, Olympic triathlons, and sprint triathlons.

Next up was Coach Valentin.  He seems to be pretty quiet, but once he started talking and demonstrating, he was hilarious.  He’s Peak’s running specific coach.  Valentin talked about dynamic stretches we should be doing before we run, and he went over the four major muscles used during running and a dynamic stretch for each while demonstrating each exercise.  Next, he covered form and what he’d be looking for on our run in the morning as well as some stretches we should all be doing after every run.  We won’t discuss how often I did stretch before or after running, but since my last injury, stretching along with strength training is something that I’ve been trying to stay on top of.  It only took 2 years of battling injuries on and off to finally cave, but I don’t do dynamic stretching prior to running, so it is something that I will be trying to add.  I guess 4:30 AM runs are going to become 4:15 AM runs.  Who needs sleep anyway?

Tony had some more prizes to give out, so he quizzed us on the information presented, and 3 people each won one 1 on 1 session with one of the 3 coaches who had spoken.  He also gave away some hats, visors, and water bottles.

After dinner, I headed to the room to prepare for Sunday’s run and to get some sleep.  We were meeting at 7AM at transition, so my alarm was set for 5:30AM.  It had been a long day, and I was ready for bed.

Sunday morning I met Wayne in the hotel lobby at 6:45AM to head to the transition area.  At 7AM, Tony gave us an overview of how transition has been set up in the past including where the wetsuit strippers typically are, where the entrance is, how the racks are set, where the exit is, etc.  He then told us the 3 pace groups, and the coach that would lead each group, and we headed to the parking lot for Valentin to lead us in the dynamic stretches he’d shown us Saturday night before starting our run.

run warm up

Valentin leading us in a warm up

After our dynamic stretches, we headed out for our slow warm up.  I’m pretty sure teeth pulling by the dentist without pain meds would have been more tolerable for at least one of the faster runners if not more.  Adam has one speed, fast, so a slow warm up is not in his vocabulary.  He’s been known to start 30 minutes after our local run group and still finish before most if not all of the other runners.  A slow mile one, then everyone was off.


Josh in the gray shirt trying to keep Adam in the blue slow. 😉


Valentin in the gray Peak shirt on the right

Since the course is 2 loops of smaller loops, it was pretty easy to run any distance you wanted, and we had people running all different distances.  Coach Chuck had 10-13 miles on my plan, so I had figured I’d try to do 10 since I hadn’t ran over 7 on a long run yet, and I had ridden 11 miles longer than my longest ride to date Saturday.  I was expecting to be sore Sunday morning, but that nutrition and hydration thing I was talking about….well, I think it made a difference because I felt great Sunday morning which was a completely different feeling for me after a long ride workout.  Clay was using a 4:1 run:walk method, so I decided to stick with him.  We also had Olivia and Meghan hang with us as well.  I finished with 11.5 miles feeling like I could have kept going and picking up speed.  It was a good indication for me that I am ready for this HIM.

After the run, we discussed the course briefly.  It’s a pretty easy flat to false flat course with few turns and some long straight stretches, so there’s not really much to it technically.  We also discussed pacing and how to start slow, and when we should decide to start picking up the pace.  Tony still had a few more prizes to give out as he quizzed us, then it was a quick wrap up before we all headed to the hotel to grab showers, pack, and check out of the hotel.

Overall, the weekend was awesome with a great group of coaches and people.  Everyone was supportive and encouraging to each other, and I actually think I might not be as miserable as I had thought I would be during the half ironman.  I still have to try my nutrition a couple of more times in the heat to make sure my electrolytes are correct, but other than that, I’m feeling pretty ready for the race, much more so than I was last week.  One of the big advantages to this camp was obviously working with the Peak coaches since that’s who coaches me, but also the size of the camp.  It allowed lots of time for one on one questions and direction from the coaches.  If you’re doing the Augusta 70.3 next year, then I’d suggest you look into the Peak racing training camp.  http://www.peakracingteam.com


Group photo at the end of camp


Augusta 70.3 Peak Racing Training Camp-Day 1

Twenty one athletes are here in Augusta with Peak Racing ( http://www.peakracingteam.com ) participating in the training camp for the 70.3.  Most of us arrived on Friday evening August 1st, and we ran into several of them along with the coaches as we were all unloading our vehicles.  A welcome dinner was scheduled at 7PM at O’Charley’s for those who arrived Friday night, so as soon as we unloaded, we were pretty much out the door to dinner.

Dinner was a fun evening with a good chance to get to know the coaches a little bit better before the long weekend.  As we arrived, we were each handed a folder with the weekend schedule, all of the coaches’ cell phone numbers, and maps of the courses.  O’Charley’s was able to seat us pretty quick, and we all ordered dinner.  While we were waiting for dinner, Tony Hammett gave us an overview of the weekend’s schedule and explained more about where we were meeting for the swim in the morning, and how the day’s activities would play out.  He also introduced the other Peak Racing coaches – Chuck Sims, Josh Stephens, and Valentin Alvarez- as well as the support staff for the weekend.  Eedee Frascella from All3Sports ( http://www.all3sports.com ) was there.  She would be driving the All3Sports van for SAG support, and Kat Hammett would be driving a vehicle with nutrition if needed as well.  At the end of dinner, we were all given goody bags with some pretty cool swag including a gender specific tech shirt.   After dinner, we all headed to the hotel to get a good night’s sleep for our early start at 6:15AM in the morning.

At the hotel, I packed up everything I’d need for a swim, bike, and run, and measured out my nutrition into bottles, so the next morning I could just fill them with water and go without much thought since I don’t think very well at 4:30AM.   I didn’t sleep well, but that’s par for the course for me for any big event, so that 4:30AM alarm came EARLY!  I filled my bottles with water, poured them into my Speedfil and xLab bottle on the bike, ate a protein bar, got dressed, went downstairs and grabbed some weak coffee (I needed extra caffeine and this didn’t cut it), and headed back up to my room to grab my stuff and head down to meet Wayne to ride over to the transition area.

We arrived about 6AM.  The river pretty much stays wetsuit legal all year, and today wasn’t any different.  The water was somewhere around 70 degrees we were told, and we had been told to bring our wetsuits ahead of time, so everyone had theirs ready except 1 person.  He had accidentally grabbed his wife’s wetsuit, so be sure the one you grab is yours if you have more than one at your house!  The transition is at the swim exit since it is a down river swim, so we all had to walk a mile to the start.  Everyone grabbed their stuff and carried it to the start, and Peak had a truck at the start to take our bags with our shoes and stuff that we didn’t want back to transition for us, so we didn’t have to walk barefooted.  The Peak staff sprayed everyone with TriSlide and helped us with our wetsuits, then we all entered the water along with Tony in a kayak and Josh on a paddleboard in case anyone needed assistance.  The swim was a little cold, but with my wetsuit, it didn’t feel bad at all.  This was the first time I had ever put my wetsuit on outside of All3Sports when Eedee fitted me for it, and I bought it.  It was snug, but Eedee did a great job fitting me, and the suit didn’t limit my reach or chafe.  We didn’t quite swim the full 1.2 mile course due to not being able to enter at the normal start of the course, so we ended up with just under a mile swim.  I completed it in 20:35, so for race day, I should be under 30 minutes.

As we exited the swim, Kat had brought all of our bags down to the boat ramp and laid them out, so we could grab our bags and shoes to walk to our cars.  We had to park in a lot about 300 yards away instead of the official transition lot due to an event in the other lot.

Tony went over a little bit of information about SAG vehicles and the course before we split into groups.  Shari, Clay’s wife, was there and volunteered to be an additional SAG vehicle for us, so we’d have 3.  The forecast was calling for rain….and thunderstorms, so we went over what we’d do if there was lightning, and then we were off in our 3 different groups.  The first group was an 18-20+mph group, not me.  The 2nd group was 16-17 mph, not sure.  The 3rd group was 13-14 mph, sounds leisurely.  😉  When we signed up for the camp, we were asked about our paces for running and cycling.  I had put in 16 mph, and I usually average somewhere in the 15.7-16.4 mph range, so I wasn’t sure exactly where I needed to go.  They had created the group paces based on what everyone had entered, and I had entered 16 mph, but I really fell in the middle of the two groups.  Coach Chuck said to go with group 2, so I did, but I told him I wasn’t sure I could keep up for 56 miles.  Of course, he assured me I could as he always does…..I don’t know why he has so much confidence in my pace when I don’t myself, but I guess coaches are there to reassure you and push you when you doubt things, and he definitely does.


Peak Racing Camp Ride Group

About 40 minutes into the ride, the rain set in, and we started seeing lightning, so we were directed by the coaches to head to the BP gas station where we hung out for about an hour as the storm seemed to just sit right on top of us.  The coaches kept a close eye on the radar, and they had to make a call to either move out and try it or turn back.  The radar didn’t look favorable, but the lightning was gone for now, so they made the call to continue on.  Now that we were all cooled down, naturally the hills started.  It took a while for my legs to warm back up, and my body as well since I was soaked, and it was still pouring on us.  We were also getting to the point on the course where the turns kicked in, so the SAG vehicles would leap frog each other and sit at practically every turn we came to, so no one would get lost.  The next 20 miles were fairly hilly, so I started falling behind a bit, but I always had a SAG vehicle or a coach in sight at the turns.  I didn’t want to push it through the hills since I needed to finish 56 miles today and my longest ride was 45 just last week, so I was glad that they made sure I didn’t get lost, but since I had fallen behind by myself, and I was an idiot and decided at the BP station to hit the lap button and set up auto laps on my watch.  I had NO CLUE what mile I was at for the last 35+ miles.  In hindsight, it was probably a good thing because I couldn’t ever really push my pace too much since I had no idea how many miles I had left.  Finally, we crossed the river and I knew I had to be within a couple of miles of the finish, and I was feeling pretty good.  My legs weren’t shot, and I didn’t feel exhausted.  We pulled into our transition area, racked our bikes on the cars, changed shoes, and were off.

The run was just a short transition run today.  Coach Chuck had 20-30 minutes on my training schedule, so I ran 15 minutes out and back.  I started too fast considering I haven’t ran under an 11 minute mile after any of my bike rides, but I was able to maintain the pace fairly well for the 3 miles.  I wouldn’t have been able to maintain it for 13.1 though, so I’ve got to remember to start SLOW!

After the run, we were to head back to the hotel, change and shower if we wanted to, then meet the coaches in the conference room for lunch and debriefing.

At the debriefing, the coaches went over some tips for the swim and bike as well as what to expect with the Augusta 70.3 on the day of the event.  They also covered some things they saw some of us doing on the course today that we might want to work on as well as answered questions that athletes had, and they even quizzed us and had some giveaways.

The water was cold.  The day was wet.  The roads were slick, but no one got lost and no one crashed.  Everyone finished the swim, and I feel a LOT better about where I’m at in training for the Augusta 70.3.

I’ve got about 40 minutes before dinner and more discussion with the coaches, then an early morning 10-13.1 mile run tomorrow.  Looking forward to the rest of camp.

Augusta 70.3 is 9 weeks away!!!!

A lot of training has happened since my last post, and the time crunch for this race has suddenly started to stress me out.  I think that’s due to the Peak Racing training camp next weekend in Augusta, but more on that in a moment. Let me start with what I’ve done the last couple of months.

In the month of June I slowly transitioned to road running and started building my running base back up. It was a slow progress, still is, but it has been going well. I signed up for the Blalock Lakes Olympic distance aquabike on June 21. I knew I wouldn’t be ready for the run at the end by then, so I stuck to the aquabike. It was a tough course with lots of hills on a pretty hot day. The swim went very well for me I thought, but the bike was rough. I realized that I had some things to learn about fueling for triathlons.


Blalock Lakes Aquabike

On July 4th, after some discussion with my coach and promises to listen to my body, I ran the Peachtree Road Race in Atlanta. I really expected to run maybe 3/4ths of the race and to give out of steam. My longest run since March 3rd was 5 miles, and I only had a total of 20 running miles in June. I went into the race with the plan to run the first part extremely slow, see how long I could keep running, and if I felt good later, then I’d pick up the pace, but if there was any nagging pain, I’d walk. Surprisingly, my legs felt pretty good at the 3 mile mark. This is also where the hills kick in on the course, and it was where I decided to start trying to pick up the pace some. For the remainder of the race, I was able to not only maintain but get negative splits, and I felt great at the end like I could have ran another mile. Woohoo! My running legs were back!

On July 12th, I had a small sprint tri called the Tributary Retro Tri hosted by Peak Racing in Douglasville, GA. With the HIM date looming closer and this sprint being only a 250 yard swim, 6 mile bike, and 2 mile run, my coach had a long ride and t-run scheduled for that weekend as well. He had given me the choice to do it the day of the sprint or the next day on Sunday. Since we were in Douglasville by an area called Silk Sheets where a lot of cyclist bike, I decided to join my teammate, Clay, after the sprint for our 2 1/2 hour ride and 20 minute run. I might rethink that choice if given it in the future. After going all out in the sprint in z4 the entire time and standing around for awards for an hour afterwards, climbing back on the bike and starting again made for one of the hardest rides I’ve done to date. My legs were toast at the beginning of the ride, and we were doing a 35 mile ride on a somewhat hilly course. I knew it was going to be a LONG day! In my mind, all that counts is that it got done, and that it did.

Waiting to start the swim at the Retro Tri

Yep, I made the podium at the Retro Tri, 2nd place

swim start

Waiting at the swim start for the Retro Tri









Since the Retro Tri, I’ve had some mixed feelings about how I’m doing in training, but I’m hanging in there.  It’s hard to explain how one day you can feel pretty good about where you are, and the next you realize that you’re 9 weeks away from your HIM, and you start to panic a little.  We had a group training day this weekend on the 26th that went ok, and I have the Peak Racing Augusta Training camp next weekend, and an Olympic distance tri the following weekend.  I think the two upcoming weekends just have me a little freaked out right now.  Plus, Saturday’s training swim, ride, and run was tougher than I’d hope it would be at this point probably due to the heat.

Seven of us arrived at Clay’s lake house Saturday, July 26th, at 7:30AM with plans to start our swim at 8AM. It was slightly delayed due to a heavy fog on the lake, but we got to it pretty quick after a few laughs and photos on the dock.  After a mile swim, we all headed out on our bikes.  The bike route was pretty straight forward with very few turns.  We stayed together for the first bit, then we’d regroup as needed and peel off as we reached the distances we needed.  The first couple of people turned off at 1 hour.  I needed 2 hours and 45 minutes, so my turn around time was at 1 hour 23 minutes.  I was already feeling like death warmed over by the time I reached my turn around time, and the other 3 were pretty far ahead of me, so I had to either keep going to let them know I was turning around or hope they saw me turn around and didn’t wait on me.  As I said, I was dead already, so I choose to turn around on a long straight away and hope they caught a glimpse of me turning around.  TWENTY TWO lonely miles laid ahead of me to get back to the lake house, but it was the only way I was getting back because I don’t quit!  Did someone mention this was a shady route during the first 20 minutes of the ride?  Oh yeah, that was Bonnie.  She turned around at the hour mark, so maybe she had some shade on the way back, but it’s now after 11AM, and there’s not a stitch of shade on this route.  Guess who forgot their sunscreen today of all days.  Yep, that’d be me.  I could feel the sun baking my arms as the ride went on FOREVER!  To add to that, my new Speedfil water bottle didn’t make it before the weekend, so I had 2 25 ounce bottles (one with water, one with Ucan) on the back of my seat plus another 35 ounces in my Profile Design Aquacell bottle, and my water was getting low around mile 35.  My neck was starting to tighten up pretty bad as well because I was having to keep it up more due to the two straws sticking up out of my water bottle.  I swear I felt like they were going to poke my eyes out if I crashed.  Anytime I tried lowering my head, the straws hit my helmet just above my forehead, so I had to keep my head cranked up more than normal, and it was KILLING me at this point.  I was ready to throw the straws on the side of the road and leave them.  I couldn’t really put my finger on why I didn’t like this water bottle before, but I definitely know what it is now.  Remember that neck injury I had issues with?  Yeah, I had an hour and a half to worry about if it was going to come back because of two STUPID straws!  Maybe it’s just where it has to sit on my bike, but I definitely wouldn’t want to ride again with the straws right in front of my face like that, and if I cut them any shorter, I’ll have to stand up and lean forward to reach them.  Then, I started to wonder if I had missed the turn I was supposed to make while I was so focused on these straws, but I was pretty sure I couldn’t….or could I?  My seat was even feeling like it was chaffing me.  I think this was just a mental ride for me and my mind was just messing with me all around at that point, so I stopped for a minute to take a breath, squirt the rest of my water left in my 25 ounce bottle into the aero bottle, and drink some of the electrolytes while I stretched my neck that was tightening up, and then I was off again quickly.  At this point, if I stopped long, I was really afraid I couldn’t start again.  Soon enough, I came upon the turn I was looking for, and all I need to see next was a red light in about 4 miles.  Naturally, my mind wasn’t done, and a little ways down this road, I started second guessing if I was supposed to turn left or right at the stop sign back there, but I kept telling myself it had to be left because on the way out we all turned right there….or did we?  Maybe I’m not to that road yet.  Yes, this is the conversation that went through my head off and on for the last hour of my ride!   I finally caught a glimpse of the red light though, so I knew I was almost back.  As I pulled into the garage to transition, I grabbed a couple of cold water bottles, poured half of one on my head and back of neck, filled my run bottle with the other half, and drank the other bottle.  Ahhhh, that was what I needed.  I instantly felt better.  It was now 12:45PM, and I needed a 35 minute run.  Have I mentioned that I always start all my long bike rides at sunrise?  Yep, there’s a reason for that.  I shall not forget it again!  Off I went on the run, or walk with a tad of running thrown in.  Whatever you want to call it.  My HR wouldn’t stay in z2 unless I walked.  I finished up my run just as the other 3 riders were heading out on their run, and I headed straight to the lake to cool off. The rest of the day was spent talking tri stuff, grilling, eating, swimming, and getting to know more about my tri buddies.

training day

ASR-Tri Training Day

Next weekend, I get to swim the Augusta course Sat morning followed by riding the 56 mile bike course and a short run, then on Sunday we’re running the course. If you don’t hear from me again, then it’s because I didn’t survive the Peak Racing Training Camp next weekend, but hopefully, I’ll be posting about how much better I feel about the Augusta 70.3 being 9 weeks away after it.  Can you sense my excitement?  Just as in running, there will be highs and lows, or at least this is what I keep telling myself.  I’m obviously in a low right now (I hope), and the confidence will come soon just as it did in marathon training.

One step closer….

Hitting the pavement running and a training session with my coach and tri friends has been a welcomed confidence boost.  The lack of running until recently has really been creating doubt in my mind.

For the first time since my marathon in Albany on March 1st, I was able to run more than 20 minutes on pavement on Thursday June 5th.  It’s been a long journey, but through physical therapy, dry needling, time off running, a cortisone injection, and RX NSAIDS, I am now back to running!  I still have some of the initial tightness that I had during marathon training in my glute, the back of my knee, and my upper calf, but it seems manageable, and I’m hoping with PT and dry needling it will continue to improve.

I’ve now had a 4.5 mile run and a 5 mile run, and I’ve survived them both, but I do NOT remember my glutes and quads being so sore from running when I started a couple of years ago.  I’m not sure why I’m so sore, but considering my glutes and quads were the muscles that I was told I didn’t use as much as I should, I’m going to take this as a good sign that I’m using them.

I really thought that once I was able to get out and run I’d be back at the point I was when I started running, and I didn’t think I’d be able to make it a mile without feeling like I was dying.  I’m happy to say that the cycling, swimming, elliptical, and weights that Coach Chuck (http://peakracingteam.com/) has assigned weekly have done a pretty good job of keeping me in shape for the run as well.  I’m not breaking any speed records, but for having taken 3 months off, I’d say that hitting the road and running 4.5 miles the first time out is pretty good.  I even finished the run within a :30s/mile average of my old training pace for long runs, so I’m “happy, happy, happy!”

Another nerve racking thing for me has been the anticipation of meeting my coach in person.  I’ve met Tony from Peak Racing, but I’ve never actually seen Chuck.  I often wonder and joke about if Chuck realizes the athlete he got when I hired him.  He definitely has his work cut out for him to get me prepared for this 70.3.  Well, I finally met Coach Chuck for the first time this past Saturday.  I’ve spoken to him on the phone, through email, and by messaging on FB several times before, and he sends my weekly plan through Training Peaks. We chat at least once a week through FB plus he emails me daily with feedback about how I did on my workouts, but it still isn’t the same as meeting a coach face-to-face, and I was extremely nervous for some reason to meet him and for this training day.

The plan was to meet up with a few local tri friends here at 5AM, head out by 5:25AM, and drive to Red Top Mountain in Cartersville to have a training day with Coach Chuck and other Peak Racing Team members and friends.  I think I finally fell asleep the night before around 2AM.  If the nerves I was feeling about meeting Coach and that training day are anywhere close to the nerves I’ll feel for the Augusta IM 70.3, then I’m pretty sure I won’t get any sleep before it.  Luckily, I was able to wake up and make it to the meeting spot by 5.  We quickly moved bikes around, loaded into one truck, and hit the road.

We arrived at Red Top Mountain around 6:45AM, introduced ourselves, said a quick hello, and headed down to the water with Coach, who is really tall, and the other Peak Team members and friends.  Coach Chuck explained the route that people usually swim, and the distances, and we were quickly in the water with him supervising in the kayak.  I was still nervous knowing that I was probably going to be one of the slowest swimmers, this was my first OWS this year, and that this was the first time Coach Chuck would see how I’m doing swimming…not to mention I had a 2 hour bike ride and 20 minute run with Coach Chuck and several speed demons still to go.  I started the swim too fast, and my breathing didn’t settle into a rhythm until over halfway through my 30 minute swim.  I turned around before the others since I only needed 30 minutes which would be less than a mile for me, and I still ended up finishing about the same time as they did.  I got in 8/10ths of a mile.

red top

Red Top Mountain Lake


Next up, we drove about 6 miles north to the Budweiser Plant for the bike ride.  This was to be a 31 mile bike ride on rolling hills.  I suck at hills, so I wasn’t so sure how this would go since I didn’t know what Chuck’s idea of rolling hills was.  At the Bud Plant, he told us the route was well marked, and he was going to make sure none of us got lost….getting lost wasn’t as big of a concern to me as what type of hills were lying ahead.  He assured us that the turns were marked on the pavement in paint.  We were used to this with rides around our area, and I had uploaded the route to my Garmin 910, so I was pretty sure that I’d make it back eventually.  Thank God Clay’s wife Shari, who wasn’t riding, was with us in the truck in case any of us needed to be picked up.  I needed that one little piece of comfort in case these hills were more than “rolling hills.”

peak ride

Ride group – Coach Chuck is the tall one in the black Peak Racing Kit next to me, the short one in the black Peak Racing Kit 😉

So, after a quick photo, which I was sure was so we could remember everyone who started and take a head count at the end to make sure everyone returned, we were off.  If you’ve never visited this area to ride in, then I highly recommend it.  The parking lot was packed with cyclist all day, and the area is very cyclist friendly.  I don’t like riding on unfamiliar roads, but I have to say this was a very enjoyable ride.  With so many cyclist riding in the area, it felt very safe.  I’m also a sucker for country roads by pastures and such, and this didn’t disappoint.  The roads were in pretty good shape for the most part.  The group split up into smaller groups, and we ended up riding with a group of four for the most part.  Around the 16 mile mark, Coach rode up next to us and said something like “you guys must be in shape, you’re averaging over 17mph.”  Say what?  “Oh crap” is what went through my mind.  I quickly informed him that I’d be slower on the second half I was sure.  In the last 10 miles of the ride, our group of four got a little strung out, so Coach Chuck helped to bridge the gap some to prevent us from getting lost.  The second half seemed to be a little more hilly to me, but it had some fun downhill curvy sections as well.  I was having a little too much fun on a section around mile 28, and I wasn’t paying close enough attention to the shadows on the downhill while I was trying to chase the group, so I hit a buckle in the road on the curvy downhill around 30 mph in aero position, and my handlebars quickly whipped from side to side, and I knew I was about to eat it.  Somehow, I stayed upright, but that was probably the most frightening moment on my bike so far.  I slowed down slightly on the downhill after that, and I made sure I watched those shadows a little better.  When we got back to the Bud Plant, we were about 12 minutes short of 2 hours, so Clay and I were discussing if we could just head on in and start the run and be short on time.  About that time, Coach rode back towards us and said something to the nature of “we’re just circling.”  I told Clay that I took that as my Coach saying to turn my butt around and finish out my 2 hours, and that Coach Tony would probably tell him the same if he was there, so we made our loop and finished out our time.

We were able to start our run pretty quick after the ride since Shari was at the truck, so we just leaned our bikes against the tree next to the truck and got to it.  I only needed 20 minutes, so off I went.  My lower back was pretty tight from the ride, and it continued to tighten up on the run, so I had to walk a couple of times during this run, but I got it done.

After an 8/10ths mile swim, 34.5 mile bike ride, and 1.8 mile run, I’m feeling much better about where I am in my training for my HIM.  I believe I’ll be ready to do this in 3 months.