Friday, August 29, 2008


According to this projection, the eye of Gustav will pass slightly west of Morgan City/Berwick, which means we will get some furious winds from the south. Our town has declared a mandatory evacuation, so we will probably be heading north on Monday morning or so. We're keeping a really close eye on this storm because so much can change so fast. My wife and I have been bunkering down, getting the house and yard ready for some serious wind and rain. There is so much excitement and anxiety in the air...

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Rip Van Winkle sprint

Ab0ve is a picture of a group of us at the Rip Van Winkle Gardens triathlon held on Sunday. Overall we had a great time, despite the fact that it rained the entire race - the last remnants of Fay. The swim - relatively uneventful, except for the fact that it never really opened up. I was constantly trying not to hit someone else, or avoiding being hit. Going through T1, I had some difficulty getting socks on with the wetness - I think at least on sprints I'll have to learn to leave the socks off. The bike was really interesting - I saw several people on the side of the road picking up their pieces after wiping out on the slick roads. I slowed to a near stop on the hard curves. T2 - cake. The run was on a pea gravel path through the gardens/fields. It was really beautiful, except for the massive manure pile we had to run by - really nice smell when you're already a little nauseated. Our group only had one injury - that was Cousin Miles who was a little too distracted by a fellow triathlete, and like a big dork, fell and busted his knee.

All in all, a really fun time. My times were:
Swim 13:37 (600m)
T1 3:18
Bike 55:02 (18mi)
T2 1:18
Run 17:44 (2.5mi)
Total 1:31:01

I also felt that this sprint was more good prep work for IM-FL as far as packing/transition issues. It's amazing that as far as packing/prep work, a full IM is going to be just a little more work than a sprint.

Nov 1 is fast approaching...

Monday, August 18, 2008

The beach

The beach weekend was awesome. We went to Destin, Florida, with about 20 other couples for a weekend of R & R. We ate. We drank. We slept. That was about it. I did manage one longer run one morning with 4 other people. Even that was cool with the change of scenery and a fun group.

We got home yesterday, and with IM-FL looming over my head, I got on The Bike and went out for a 3 hour ride. 2 hours into the ride I had a nasty electrical storm sneak up on me out of nowhere. Before I knew it, I had lightning striking all around me and nowhere to go. I felt like a cornered rat. I finally pulled in to a campground and sheltered in a pavilion. It was actually really cool to just sit and drink the water from my water bottle, watching the storm pass.

This weekend my wife and I are signed up for a sprint tri at Rip Van Winkle gardens. We have a lot of friends doing the race also, including Cousin Miles who did Steelhead with me. The distances are 600m swim, 18 mile bike, 2.5 mile run. We're really looking forward to it because we've never done this event before.

The cross country coach at our local high school will be having a baby soon, so the school asked my wife to coach the team. Being a very small school district, the junior high team also tags along with the high school to the meets. All four of my girls do cross country (hence the request for my wife to coach, since we make up a good bit of the team). She even had to take a class and a test to become an official coach. I know she's going to do an awesome job, and it will be a very memorable season for my girls and all the other members of the team (and my wife).

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


Got up this morning and rode for 50 minutes, getting in 5 intervals of 4 minutes at 105% of lactate threshold. If you're not familiar with training with power, let me summarize it by saying it was pretty hard. It rained early this morning, so the roads were all still wet - had to slow down a lot at turns.

Then ran 45 minutes right after. I feel so good the rest of the day when I workout in the morning before work.

Ironman Florida looms over my head every day. November 1 is so close.

I had a day at the office where not much went right. I have those every now and then, and they're usually not that close together. It's nice I won't have another one of those for a while.

My wife and I leave early Friday morning for Sandestin, Florida, for the weekend with a bunch of friends - we are SO pumped. Three day weekend (adults only!)!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Steelhead in pictures

It was great to be with friends - Stu, Pharmie, Wil and Sara

Evotri's newest member, J.P., on the left.

Lake Michigan way too angry for a swim.

The men's room before the race start.

Sweet in full stride.

A pretty tight transition area.

Steve, tri supporter extraordinaire, in the "yellow bowl of sunshine" shorts.

Me, laughing at Steve no doubt.


How great are our volunteers?

The cruel quicksand pit at the end.

Special thanks to James, team photographer, for the above pics.

We're all so proud of Rural Girl's qualifying for the 70.3 Championships!

Special thanks to John and Tracy for the pics below.

Amy, all smiles.

The race was an early start for John on a Saturday morning. Too early.

John, much better after a nap.

Penni powering the run.

Cousin Miles on the bike.

Miles on the run through the pit. Almost done!

Me approaching the finish line.

Me debriefing with Coach Dan of Vision Quest Coaching.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Steelhead nutrition

As part of my preparation for Steelhead this year, I flipped through Nancy Clark's Sports Nutrition Guidebook 4th Edition and got a lot of good pointers. At Steelhead I had a PR on the bike and the run. I think a big part of these PR's was related to nutrition, and I really want to focus on this aspect of my training for IM-FL in November. Why spend hours and hours training on the bike, in the pool, or on runs if you're going to DNF over nutrition?

The day before Steelhead was a travel day. I woke up early and drank two cups of coffee on the way to the airport with Cousin Miles. On the airplane, I had the Southwest airlines snacks - a graham cracker/apple thing and a tiny bag of peanuts. I also had 2 screwdrivers - makes flying a lot more fun. For lunch, I ate at Quizno's - large turkey sub with everything, bag of chips, and a Coke. Later in the afternoon at the registration pavilion, I ate spaghetti and breadsticks with marinara and a Sprite. Closer to bedtime, our friends John and Tracy ordered take out Chinese food - couldn't pass that up. I had chicken fried rice with a lot of soy (love soy) and a beer. I drank a bottle of water at bedtime. Definitely carb loaded that day.

Race day - woke up and started eating. I had 2 cups of coffee with sugar and cream. I ate 2 pop tarts (400 calories - wow) on the ride with a bottle of water. While getting my stuff ready in transition I drank a Gatorade. On the walk out to the swim I ate a snickers. I drank 2 or 3 cups of water heading out to the substitute run start.

On my bike I had a water bottle between the aero bars and a Gatorade bottle in a cage below. One Gatorade bottle lasted me the entire bike - I'm not a big fan of sports drinks. I drank mostly water and tried to get my electrolytes from foods like salty pretzels. Foods I had on the bike - pretzel goldfish for salt/sugar (about a cup - kind of hard to get out of the bento box without crashing, a little bit of an aspiration hazard), gummy bears for sugar fixes (maybe a cup and a half - nice because you can swallow them easily half-chewed), 2 half peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (peanut butter first to keep the bread from getting soggy, then a little extra jelly to make it "juicier" to eat - my mouth is dry on the bike), one Clif bar that took me forever to eat but good calories, and 3 Gu's. Every aid station I took a water bottle and filled my bottle on my aero bars. I sipped Gatorade occasionally but drank less than one bottle total on the bike.

Starting the run I felt great. I've never felt great starting the run. I took a few sips of Gatorade and a few sips of water at each aid station. At mile 6 and 9 I took one gel.

Gastrointestinally I felt terrific the whole race and afterwards. No nausea, no sloshing, no feelings of hypoglycemia or muscle fatigue. No starving feeling after the race. I drank a bunch of water after the race. We went out for dinner afterwards at Heston Bar and Grill for post-race refueling. I had fried calamari, beef and vegetable soup, steak, steak fries, and a few beers. I added salt to all my food, and drank several glasses of water.

When I logged Steelhead into Training Peaks it calculated that I had burned 3849 calories. As best I can tell I ate a total of 2560 calories right before and during the event. I guess between my glycogen stores and what I ate, I provided enough energy without overdoing it.

A lot of triathletes I know do nutrition completely different from me. I know some people's stomachs do not tolerate solids at all and have to do liquid-only nutrition. But after a while I can't stand the thought of another Gu or more Gatorade. I'd be really interested to know exactly what others packed on their bike for nutrition. I think on previous half distance races I simply did not eat enough calories to sustain me the whole day - I usually tanked on the run. I'm hoping that I can plan my nutrition for IM-FL and feel as well as I did for Steelhead.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Steelhead du race report

My journey to Steelhead started late Thursday night when I started taking The Bike apart to pack in a bike box for my flight the next day. Cousin Miles, who did Steelhead this year with me, picked me up at 5:45 the next morning to catch an 8:30 flight from New Orleans to Chicago. We arrived in Chicago at about 11:00 and headed straight to St. Joe, Michigan, to register and check our bikes into transition.

We unpacked our bikes in the parking area of Jean Klock park and put them together. I rode The Bike around the race site to be sure that everything was working correctly. We then registered, got body marked, and checked our bikes into transition. I then came across my new Evotri teammate, JP, at the Michigan State University tri tent. What a cool guy. Cousin Miles and I then had an early carb loading supper with the rest of the Evotri gang - it was so great to see them all again!

Next, we headed over to our friends John and Tracy's house in Niles, Michigan, who were incredibly kind to put us up for a few nights. They were even nice enough to get up early with us the next morning, make us breakfast, and drive us 45 minutes to St Joe to the tri start. It was so nice to be dropped off right at transition and not have to worry about parking! Miles and I got our transition areas situated, put on our wetsuits to our waists, and headed to the beach to walk the mile to the start.

The wind was blowing pretty hard, and I noticed white caps out in the lake pretty far. I saw jet skis hopping over waves, and kayakers having difficulty with the waves. I walked along the edge of the water where the sand was firmer, and was surprised by how not cold the water seemed. It wasn't until we were almost all the way to the start that we found out that the swim was cancelled. Then we trekked another mile in the sand back to transition, put on our running gear, and got ready for the 2 mile run that was substituted for the swim.

My age group was wave 15, which was third to last - really sucked. I'd never done a duathlon before, and thought I would treat the two mile run as a warm up. It was relatively uneventful, except for the hellish hill and the run through the dunes in the deep sand at the end.

The bike - I really enjoyed the bike. I'm surprised to be saying that, especially since it was windy and hilly. But I enjoyed it. I think a big part of it was that this was the first race that I've done on The Bike, which fits me so much better than my old bike. I've also never raced with a power meter before. I tell you, it makes all the difference in the world. Coach Dan advised me to not spend more than 240-250 watts getting up the hills, so that I could save my legs for the run. It was also very helpful to be able to monitor my power output at all times to be able to pace myself better during the entire bike, especially given all the many variables like wind, hills, etc. I was so thankful to not flat or crash - I saw too many of both of these on the bike.

The run - I started the run with one goal - finish without walking. I didn't care how slow I had to run, I was not going to walk. Not even the hills. Not even the big hills. Not even the cruel quicksand pit at the very end of the race. DO NOT WALK! It wasn't easy, but I was able to reach that goal because I had planned for it throughout my bike, and I had nailed my nutrition. It's amazing what your body can do when you give it proper fuel.

Results - hard to compare to other 70.3's without the swim, so here are my splits.
Bike Steelhead 2008 2:48 (Steelhead 2006 3:46)
Run 2008 1:43 (2006 2:42)

Discussion - for me, these results are so much better than the past two 70.3's I've done. I think my improvement can be attributed to a lot of things, especially my coaching, my equipment, and improvement in my arthritis that was more active in 2006. But I think a HUGE factor was getting my nutrition right this time, which I've never been able to do before. In my next post I'm going to discuss my Steelhead nutrition more, and list everything that I ate the day before and the day of the race because I would like to try to duplicate it for IM-FL in November.

Went out to Heston Bar and Grill for supper that night to refuel, and man did we refuel!

Thanks - BIG thanks to Cousin Miles for signing up and doing Steelhead with me, even though you're such a jackass. BIG thanks to John and Tracy for your incredible hospitality, and spending your entire Saturday chasing me and Miles around southwest Michigan. And BIG thanks to Coach Dan who drove in from Chicago with his girlfriend early Saturday morning just to watch me do this race - you're the best!