Tuesday, October 30, 2007

2 Sense

Hi, I need to committ blog catharsis, so here I am. It is Tuesday, October 30, the eve of Halloween (that sounds much better than "day before Halloween").

Why am I writing this blog entry, when I am in neither Clearwater or Thailand, as these were supposed to be the topics of all future blog entries? Is that a long question?

Because I'm messed up.

No, seriously, I'm messed up.

I threw my back out again yesterday. I don't think it ever completely healed from the initial injury last month.

My peroneal tendonitis in my left foot is back.

I developed tendonitis in the back of my right leg while trying to keep weight off my left foot.

I feel like a freakin' cripple.

Swimming hurts. Biking hurts. Running hurts. See, this is what happens when you race hard all season. It's the risk that you take. Of course, it was all worth it.

HERE is my frustrating dilemna. I'm signed up to race Half Ironman World Championships in 11 days. I'm signed up to race in Thailand on December 3. Hotels are booked. Plane tickets are bought. Race entries are paid. Everything is set up.

And all I really want to do is just NOTHING. I want to quit training, and now I can't. I'm roped in. I'm painted into a corner.

Hawaii was supposed to be the culmination of the season, and it was an injury fest. I still haven't bounced back. I haven't been able to go hard and fast in I don't know how long. I'm losing my touch. Losing my speed. These next two races are going to SUCK unless I figure something out.

OK, I've ranted. Over and out.


Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Official Kona Race Report

A long story, but I'll try to condense it as much as possible!

Official Ironman race start was at 7am, and body marking began at 4:45, while it was still dark outside. My transition area was already set-up from the night before, so all I had to do was show up and race. Sipped nuun electrolytes up until race start.

The swim start was jumbled and rough. I'm used to being at the front of the pack, but at World Championships, it's a whole different story. These are 1800 of the fastest athletes in the world, and I was surrounded by a pack of swimmers the entire time. My injured back, strained from work the week prior, started to bother me at the 1.2 mile turnaround, and I had to slow my pace considerably coming down the back half of the swim. Total swim time was 1 hour.

Bike transition went smoothly...I took 2 Hammer Gel Endurolyte caps and 2 Hammer Gels then headed out. Basically, I mentally split the bike into seven sections:

1) Out of pier and T1, through town, to Highway 19 (~9 miles). Felt a bit sick from saltwater ingestion. Took awhile to get my legs underneath me.

2) Highway 19 to airport. Heavy crosswinds, started to settle in.

3) Airport to Kawaihae. Felt good, rode hard.

4) Kawaihae turnoff to Highway 270, up to Hawi turnaround. Got slapped with a 4 minute drafting penalty. It was very hard to avoid drafting with as many cyclists as were around me, but I didn't argue with the referee.

5) Turnaround, tailwind back to Kawaihae. Pushed hard to make up for the 4 minute penalty.

6) Kawaihae to airport. Dropped my Endurolyte capsules on accident. Had to substitue with Gatorade the last 2 aid stations. Got sick.

7) Airport to T2. Spun out legs to prepare for the run. Stomach felt horrible.

I ended up with about a 5:15, well on pace for the 9:30 race I had predicted. Passed a lot of people on the bike. Used Hammer gel Perpetuum and endurolytes for the bike, other than when I was forced to take Gatorade.

The run transition was tough. I didn't want to go run a marathon when I felt like hurling. I headed out anyways. For those of you who didn't know, I've been battling peroneal tendonitis the past 3 weeks, and was nervous about being able to run a marathon when all I've run was 8 total miles in the past 3 weeks. I had some new shoes and orthotics from Fleet Feet sports in Coeur D' Alene and I probably wouldn't have even been able to run at all if it weren't for these.

1) T2 to Alii Drive - let legs settle from bike. Very slow pace. Stopped at 2 Porta Potty's to hurl. Probably the fructose in the Gatorade that messed me up.

2) Reverse course back to Palani Road. Almost quit the race here. Foot was hurting. Back was hurting. Stomach felt horrible.

3) Queen K Highway to Energy lab - maintain pace, stay mentally tough. Walked most of the aid stations. This was the slowest I've ever run in my life.

4) Energy lab - finally started to feel a little better. Was able to open up stride, but held back considerably so as not to injure the foot even further. Back felt good. Stomach pain almost gone.

5) Energy lab to Palani turn - kicked it up a notch and started to actually pass people.

6) Final 2 miles - first time in the race where I really felt up to pace. Still, the marathon took me 4 hours and total time for the race was a 10:28. Crossing the finish line down Alii Drive was a very cool experience. I just wish I could have run the whole marathon like I ran the last 2 miles.

This was the hardest physical endeavor I've every attempted, and very humbling. I'm young and inexperienced at this distance, but based on this experience, I've learned quite a bit that will make me faster. I'm looking forward to Ironman Coeur D' Alene in 2008 to be a very good race.

I'd like to specifically mention the following sponsors:

tn: these Swiss-made optics were flawless the entire race. It is the first time I haven't fogged up with sunglasses, which I why I typically don't even wear sunglasses on the run. These are by far the coolest specs I've ever owned.

Wicked Fast: Recover-Ease is a proprietary blend of amino acids in convenient capsule form. I used these every day leading up to the race, and can guarantee that these will be part of the key to allowing me to recover in time for Clearwater World Championships.

Markham Homes: Markham Homes made the Hawaii race possible by providing air travel to the race and helping cover race registration fees. Markham Homes sponsors athletes from all around Spokane, so next time you need a home or know someone who is looking to build, contact Markham.

Bucer's CoffeeHouse Pub: Bucer's was also a major financial sponsor for this race. Bucer's Coffeehouse is a full service coffeehouse and pub based out of downtown Moscow, ID. Be sure to visit next time you're in Moscow!

Bumblebar: Bumblebar is my top health food snack during travel, and this gluten-free seed and nut based bar digests very well during race week. Bumblebar provided a rental car for the week - thus saving my legs from having to bicycle everywhere in Kona! They're represented by the massive sticker on the side of my racing helmet.

Nuun hydration: nuun effervescent electrolyte tablets were my supplement of choice to stay optimally hydrated during race week. I flew through these bottles while in Hawaii, and kept my sodium levels topped off for the race!

Hammer Nutrition: Much thanks to Hammer Nutrition for providing the best long distance supplement on the planet: Perpetuum! I live and die by Perpetuum on the bike, and I used the Hammer Gel Tropical flavor with caffeine for the run. I also supplement with Hammer Race Caps every day leading up to the race.

Millennium Sports: I loaded with Kreaceps, Citruvol and Cordygen5 from Millennium5 - thus significantly boosting my force capacity and oxygen uptake. Millennium has been a huge supplement and financial support sponsor this season!

Fleet Feet Sports: New kicks and orthotics from Fleet Feet Sports made it possible for me run the bare minimum possible to beat 11 hours in Kona. The foot is almost completely healed, and I'll be wearing the Asics Racer X during the Clearwater race. Look for a PR split at that race! Nancy and Garth at Fleet Feet in Coeur D' Alene are highly knowledgeable on the right shoes for your feet and your distance - so go check 'em out!

Wheelsport East: Don't know if you noticed, but the new Ironman World Champion was riding the brand new Specialized S-Works. I happened to be one of just a handful of other athletes at the race who were riding a Specialized brand bike, sponsored by Wheelsport East. Keep your eyes open, because Specialized will be taking the triathlon world by storm.

Cee-Gees: The Cee-Gees brand aeropads and aerobar bottle make 5 hours of hard riding a much more comfortable task, and make the Profile Design pads seem like cardboard!

Blue-Seventy: I wore the Blue Seventy skin suit in the water, and it felt fantastic. These were very popular at the race. I also used the Blue-Seventy metallic element goggles. I'm hooked on them and will sport them at Clearwater next month for sure. Thanks B70!

To all my sponsors - please let me know if you'd like a picture of me racing while displaying your logo. I can get you one digitally, or if you'd like, I can print and send photos. Either way, if you want one, I'll get you one! I have 4 weeks to recover, then go race Clearwater. Unlike Hawaii, which was a race where the goal was to finish and survive, I'd like to seriously turn some heads at Clearwater, so stay tuned...

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Race Update

Results are up on ironmanlive.com, under "track an athlete".

After having a mostly fantastic swim and bike, I was heading out on the run at about 6:20. Basicaly, I knew that all I had to do was run a 3:40 marathon to break 10 hours. My actual plan was to run a 3:10-3:15 and shoot for about a 9:30. Unfortunately, between my foot, my back and (thanks to Gatorade - my new worst enemy) my stomach, things didn't go as planned on the marathon, and I ended up with a 10:28.

Am I satisfied? Absolutely. I feel so enormously blessed to even *be* here, racing with this caliber of a field. As a matter of fact, my swim and my bike were well within the top 20%! I can't complain about that...

Highlights of the race:

1) Looking next to me 20 minutes into the swim and who should be swimming directly by my side but Roger Thompson from Spokane, WA, the guy I'm actually down here *with*. We haven't planned it, but have been side by side in the only two Ironman we've ever done together. This is freakishly weird.

2) Got slapped with a 4 minute drafting penalty. 4 minutes in the sin bin, just waiting to get back on my bike and ride again.

3) Drank a total of about 250oz of water today. Ate 2100 calories on the bike and 1200 calories on the run. Swallowed 48 electrolyte pills.

Good night!

Friday, October 12, 2007

The Mind of an Evil Genius

Ben Greenfield's Official Race Strategy

I realize that this completely opens me to attacks from bloodthirsty competitors on the race course, but I don't really give a floater. Without any further ado, hooplah, or funny business, here's the plan. It's always my "MO" to write it down - it just happens to be going on the blog for Kona.

Official Ironman race start is at 7am. Body marking begins at 4:45.

Breakfast 2 hours prior to race start (5am): 2 sweet potatoes + 6 multi-vitamin + cordyceps/creatine/CoQ-10. Be at race by 5:20-5:30am for body marking. Sip 18-20oz of water per hour leading up to race, with 1 dissolved Nuun electrolyte tab in each bottle. Very short 5 minute run for warm-up. Consume 300mg caffeine pills at 6:15. Be in water at 6:45. Bring one Hammer Gel out to water to be consumed 5 minutes prior to race start.

Swim heads south in a clockwise direction with buoys on right. I will be sighting off a strip of land jutting out into the water from the Kona Royal Resort for the out portion and will be sighting the King Kamehameha hotel on the back portion. Based on sighting method, I will be favoring left side breathing going out and right side breathing coming back.

Physiologically, I will work harder on the out portion, which involves more swimming "into" a current/oceanfront. I will relax and let the current do more work coming back.

In T1: 2 Hammer Gel Endurolyte caps and 1 Hammer Gel, 12oz clear water.

On bike in transition: 3 hours worth of Perpetuum at 260 calories/hr (6 scoops + 1 EXTRA scoop to account for non-mixed portion that remains in bottom of bottle). Will not begin consuming this until 10 minutes out of bike. 1 28oz aero bottle full of clear water. 1 plastic canister with 20 endurolyte caps. 4 gels in bento box (1 for each hour + 1 emergency gel).

Every 8 minutes consume 1oz of Perpetuum (8, 16, 32, 40, 48, 56). At 60 minute consume 1 gel (maltodextrin base), then restart clock. At 21 mile aid station, 28oz of water should be completely consumed form aero bottle. Refill bottle entirely and continue to refill with 25-30oz every 21 miles (every 3rd aid station).

Every 15 minutes, consume 1 endurolyte. If cramping begins to occur, increase to 5-6 endurolytes/hr.

At Hawi turnaround (50 miles remaining), trade empty Perpetuum bottle for a new bottle that already contains 2.5 hours (4.5 scoops + 1/2 extra scoop) of Perpetuum in powder form. Mix with water from aid station. Get another plastic canister from special needs bag that contains 15 e-caps. So there is basically less fuel and less electrolytes coming back than going out.

Split bike section into 7 sections:

1) Out of pier and T1, through town, to Highway 19 (~9 miles). Ride harder (can't help it - crowd's watching!)

2) Highway 19 to airport (heavy crosswinds, ~6 miles)

3) Airport to Kawaihae (some headwind, primarily crosswind, ride conservatively, ~28 miles)

4) Kawaihae turnoff to Highway 270, up to Hawi turnaround (ATTACK, tailwind will be coming up soon, ~17 miles)

5) Turnaround, tailwind back to Kawaihae (spin out tailwind, continue solid pace, 17 miles)

6) Kawaihae to airport (crosswinds, let legs dictate pace, ~28 miles)

7) Airport to T2 (~6 miles, spin out legs, prepare for run)

T2: 2 Delta E's (B12 + caffeine) with 8oz of water

Onto run: hold 1 plastic canister with 20 e-caps to be consumed at 1 every 15 minutes. If cramping begins, increase to 5-6/hr. Begin run at 8 minute miles for first 5K, then shorten to 7:00-7:30 pace. Supplement with 1/2-3/4 of a gel every 2 aid stations. This is not ideal because I don't like Powerbar C2 gels, and fructose doesn't sit well on top of Perpetuum, but I would rather do this than carry *both* a flask and a plastic endurolyte caps canister. My only other possibility is to shove a handful of Hammer Gels down my jersey pockets heading out onto the run. I don't like the way they bounce around, but I might do it.

At run special needs I will have another handful of gels.

The run will be split into the following portions.

1) T2 to Alii Drive - let legs settle from bike, 8m pace (~4 miles)

2) Reverse course back to Palani Road - speed up slightly, 7:00-7:30 pace (~4 miles)

3) Queen K Highway to Energy lab - maintain pace, stay mentally tough (~10K)

4) Energy lab - possibly slow down just a bit, run conservatively (~4 miles)

5) Energy lab to Palani turn - kick it up a notch if legs feel good 6:45-7:15 pace (10K)

6) Final mile - ENJOY LIFE!!!

OK. That's it. Keep me in your thoughts and prayers. I don't know if I'll be posting again until after the race. A huge thank you to all my sponsors - Hammer Gel, Bumblebar, Millennium Sports, Wicked Fast, Markham Homes, Bucer's Coffeehouse, Fleet Feet, nuun, Blue 70...YOU ALL ROCK.


Stay tuned

...fresh pics can be seen at http://tri-fusion.com/Gallery/

...remember to track the race live at http://www.ironmanlive.com

...later today: Ben Greenfield's Complete Kona Ironman Racing & Nutritional Strategy will be posted online

Thursday, October 11, 2007


Today was relatively uneventful, other than one very colossal event...

...no seriously, this was a big deal...

...probably one of the most significant things that has ever happened to me, after my birth and my wedding...

..it happened during my Ironman carbohydrate loading protocol...

...That's right, folks: I believe that I have successfully consumed the largest bowl of oatmeal I have ever eaten.

This massive feast consisted of:

-1 entire cup of oats
-1 tablespoon of almond butter
-1 entire container of yogurt
-2 eggs
-2 small bananas
-12 chocolate covered macadamia nuts

By my reckoning, this was an 1100 calorie meal. And there were no Double Arches involved.

By the way, go to http://tri-fusion.com/Gallery/ for photos. Unfortunately, the giant bowl of oatmeal went unphotographed.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

L to R: Jeff Blackwell, Ben Greenfield and Roger Thompson - the 3 dudes from Spokane who will be racing Ironman.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Athlete's Back

Brief Top 3 for Today's Highlights

1. I woke up and my back felt pretty good. But I had contracted pink-eye and my shoulder had completely popped out of socket during the night. Haha. Just kidding. No, actually, I felt pretty good so I went for a swim. I swam in the general direction of a boat that was floating out by the Ironman swim course - a little Robinson Crusoe type of dinghy. So I pull up alongside it...and it's basically a floating coffeeshop giving coffee to the swimming athletes! How cool is that? Or messed up? I don't know which. I didn't drink any coffee, but it made me wonder if that's a good idea for a franchise that could be called StarfishBucks. Or Coffish. Or Wake Up and Smell the Fish. OK, so I won't give up my day job.

2. Rode my bike on the Ironman marathon course. It is boring, rolling, lava fields. Hot and miserable. I kid you not - come Saturday it will be a death march. But like a death march with free energy candy and gatorade.

3. Had a massage from a gentleman that actually *walked on my back* in his bare feet. He just danced around up there like some kind of leprachaun. It was at a Farmer's Market in Kona. He was pretty good, really. So my back felt even better afterwards, but I think I need some anti-fungal cream so I don't contract Athlete's Back.

Good night,

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Sharks and Elephants.

It's kinda strange being scared to run, but at the same time experiencing a deep desire to go hammer the pavement. If I had to give the best analogy I can think of, I would say it is very similar to the feeling of being a strict vegetarian, but at the same time experiencing a deep desire to go on an African safari and shoot an elephant. This is how I felt upon waking on Sunday morning. I dreamt about shooting that elephant the entire night. And by shooting the elephant, I mean running. The back was slightly sore and the foot still a bit tender, but I wanted to run - almost as badly as I wanted to eat a big breakfast of CARBOHYDRATES. My carb loading protocol dictated that Sunday morning was the time to start shoving starch down the hatch. Boy, I love bread pudding.

Anyways, I am both attending and presenting at the Hawaii Ironman Medical Conference during my stay here in Kona. This means that I am spending 5 hous per day in an air conditioned hotel conference room listening to physicians talk about solutions for saddle sores. I personally will be presenting on physiology of endurance athletics. So I sat all morning, just thinking about running, and listening to doctors describe solutions for runner's diarrhea.

Finally, class was dismissed! I drove home, put on my running shoes, and took a few ginger steps. Then I opened my stride up, and ran. I ran 4 miles - 2 miles out and back. Interestingly, the foot felt just a little sore, but the back was a bigger problem. My right butt cheek hurt, probably due to nerve related sacroiliac related dysfunction. I had to change up my stride a bit, which hurt the right knee. Gotta love those chain reactions. So I will talk to Dr. Pearce tomorrow about seeing a chiropractor.

Either way, I am glad to say that I will be completing this race. If I can run 4 miles, I know I can bike and swim, which I will be trying tomorrow. And even if I have to run-walk the marathon or stop and stretch my back every 20 miles on the bike, I know I can do Ironman.

So thank you for your prayers, your outpouring of concern and your medical advice. I am convinced that the power of the body to heal is only possible by the grace of God. I will be thanking God every morning for my returning physical health, which I will never again take for granted.

The remainder of Sunday was uneventful. Unpack and build bicycle. Tour Kona with my wife. Eat dinner with the Tri-Fusion triathlon club. Go to bed. Althought I was very sleepy, this was a good day.

Let me finish by saying that I hope I do not see any dangerous animals when I am swimming tomorrow. My pet dolphin Edward, who I brought on the trip to protect me from sharks, unfortunately perished during the long flight to Kona, as the federal aviation administration failed to feed him his allotted tuna rations. So I hope I am not eaten by sharks.

Are sharks or elephants the most dangerous animal in the world?

Neither. The most dangerous animal in the world is a shark riding on the back of an elephant, razing everything in it's path.


You Can't Kill My Dolphin

Ah, injuries. You either love ‘em or you hate ‘em. I, personally, hate them. Some people love them. These people made a movie called Jackass.

As some readers may have heard, I sustained an injury in a Half Ironman triathlon a couple weeks ago. Before you judge too harshly, this injury did not occur from a bike crash. Contrary to popular belief cemented since my first bike related hospital visit when I was 12 years old, I actually have good bike handling skills. They are not as good as my numbchuck skills, but they are good.

The technical speak for my injury is “peroneal tendonitis”. Anatomically speaking, the peroneal tendon is the large band of tissue that extends down the left spine of the Ukrainian wood ferret, but in humans is actually found on the lower leg. The best way to describe this injury is that it feels like an ankle sprain on the bottom of your foot. No, my ankle is not on the bottom of my foot. It’s right where I usually leave it, directly above my foot. But it feels like if I were to sprain my ankle and then pick that sprain up and put it underneath my foot, I would reproduce this injury’s general feeling. And by reproduce I don’t mean that I have any sexual feelings about my ankle. Damn! This is getting hard to explain. And I’m kidding about the ferret. Moving on…

Since the pain became unbearable several days after the race, especially when I tried to run, I grew very apprehensive about “being ready” for Kona World Championships. Seriously – being barely able to walk 2 weeks prior to the biggest race of your life is like being a quarterback right before the world series and being barely able to swing your racquet, to use a popular sports metaphor. Or like a horse jockey being barely able to find proper drycleaning for his or her colorful horse riding garb.

So over 2 weeks, I threw every therapeutical modality but the kitchen sink at my injured foot – ice massage, regular massage, ultrasound, electrical stimulation, magnetic therapy, topical anti-inflammatory, and bedtime stories. Nothing seemed to work. I couldn’t run but 20 feet without shooting pain. Furthermore, it was beginning to hurt even when I rode my bike, especially when I rode without a saddle on my seatpost, which I do sometimes to make myself tough, or when I’m constipated.

Finally, Dr. PZ Pearce, who is the greatest sports medicine doctor on the face of the planet, suggested a corticosteroid injection into the peroneal tendon sheath. The idea is that the cortisone acts a type of stimulant to my body, giving me enormous biceps so that my arms can handle the rigors of performing an entire Ironman in a wheelchair. No, just kidding. It accelerates the healing response and significantly decreases inflammation.

We injected the foot just 2 days before I was to leave for Hawaii.

And then, while picking up a set of dumbbells in my physiology lab, I threw out my back. Injury number two. Later that night, I had a reaction to the cortisone injection and my peroneal tendon became swollen like a golf ball was lodged in my foot, with intense shooting pain traveling up my entire leg.

So there I was, unable to walk, unable to bend, unable to move, unable to swim, unable to bike, unable to run, 9 days until Kona World Championships. Talk about bad mojo. You never really realize what you take for granted. All that I needed to complete the scenario was for my endangered pet dolphin, Edward, to be struck by a lightning bolt. So I transferred him from his giant outdoor aquarium to the safety of the indoors bathtub.

But I digress.

The painful reaction to the cortisone injection, I was later informed by Dr. Pearce, is normal.

Ben: “Dr. Pearce, I think that I may be dying, my foot is swollen about the size of a large adult rat and I have intense shooting pains up my leg with a blood red skin surface on my ankle and complete paralysis of my entire left side.”

Dr. Pearce: “Oh, that’s normal.”

Touche. But as he promised, the foot began to slowly feel better over the next 2 days. So I continued my intensive treatments literally until stepping on the plane (much to the mortification of FAA officials as I attempted to pass security with a portable electrical stimulation unit in my backpack).

I also treated the injured back very intensively, with ice 5x/day for 30 minutes (yes, that was an entire DVD of The Office), electrical stimulation 2x/day, light massage, and topical analgesic as frequently as possible to relax the spasming muscles.

Just prior to heading to the airport this morning, I tried to run. There was slight pain, but I was able to slowly shuffle through almost 4 miles. I’ve felt a few twinges of pain in both the back and the foot while walking about the various airport terminals throughout the day, but nothing incredibly debilitating.

And so this blog entry is being composed as we near the final descent to Kona. The Big Island awaits. Will I be able to run an entire 26.2 mile marathon in six days? Will my back snap during the 2.4 mile ocean swim? Will Edward survive the rigorous trip in his travel aquarium, lodged in the underbelly of the plane? Only time will tell.

Over and out.


Saturday, October 6, 2007

Delay is not just a Congressman

Quick post:

-For those of you wanting an update on my various and sundry ligailments (my creative nomenclature for torn up pieces of me), I'm sorry but that's not going to happen in this post. Saving that story for later, when I'm not paying $84.00 for 30 seconds of T-Mobile internet access. Besides, the only people who care about the injuries are A) my mom and B) people who paid me money and gave me stuff to be here. To the former, I love you; to the latter, that's the last time I smuggle drugs in orifices for you. No, actually. They were sponsors, not drug lords. This is sounding dumb to explain. Moving on.

The actual *subject* in this post: Delay!


-I and wife Jessa arrive in Spokane at 5:45am and find out our flight is cancelled

-chop suey with the airline to find a flight for us (I won't name the airline because it's rude, but...it rhymes with Kaplaska)

-arrive in Seattle, but flight rearrangement means a 3 hour layover

-finally get to LA!

-call my brother in LA: "sorry dude, but only have 1 hour to spend together because my flight into LA was delayed"

-stuff, stuff, stuff quick eat Japanese food with brother, chopstick no good for fast eat time, hate eat asian with fork, check please buh-bye was that fish or chicken?

-huff and puff back to LAX to find out our flight was delayed 3 hours


So the update?

I'm sitting on the floor of the LAX airport, blogging.

Over and out, I think that this single blog post just cost me my firstborn to T-Mobile online, and the kid's not even born yet. But she is pregnant, for those of you who didn't know.