Saturday, December 1, 2012

How I Prepare My Race Day Nutrition For A Half-Ironman

I've received quite a few questions about how I actually prepare my race day nutrition for a Half Ironman. If you read my "Healthy Race Day Nutrition Plan" article, then you know that my race day nutrition for a Half-Ironman looks like this:



UCAN is a high molecular weight, corn-derived starch that is metabolized differently than simpler sugars such as fructose or maltodextrin. It is a powder that you mix with water, and it’s metabolism results in far less insulin production and less blood sugar spiking compared to other gels and sports drinks, and as a result of these lower insulin levels, this approach also allows your body to tap into it’s own storage fat as a fuel.

How I use UCAN: I simply consume 2 servings (220 calories) 2 hours before the race, then 2 servings per hour during the entire bike and run. I mix 6 packets (enough for 3 hours) into a water bottle that I keep on the downtube of my bicycle and consumed a mouthful every 15-20 minutes, and put 3 packets into a flask that I guzzle from every 5K on the run.


One drawback to UCAN is that most of it is flavored with artificial sweeteners, so I choose the plain, unsweetened version. But the plain version tastes a bit “chalky”. So I wanted to figure out a way to add a bit of flavor, and also get some extra energy-boosting compounds. Enter Energy28 Liquid Superfood, which imparts both flavor and also energy enhancement without the caffeine central nervous system overstimulation.

How I use Energy28: I simply consume 1 servings for each serving of UCAN . So I put 6 servings in the water bottle that I have the UCAN in, and 2 servings per hour in a flask of UCAN that I carry on the run. 

As I’ve written about extensively in this 2 part series on amino acids, high blood levels of amino acids primarily:

1) reduce your rating of perceived exertion, allowing you to work harder without your brain “shutting down” your body;
2) keep your body from cannibalizing your own lean muscle during exercise, thus limiting post-workout or post-race soreness.

But most proteins (the source of amino acids) need to be digested, which can take a long time and shuttle a lot of extra blood away from your muscles and into your stomach. Enter the MAP capsules, which completely digest in 23 minutes, while other protein sources take anywhere from 2-6 hours.

How I use MAP: I consume 10 capsules 30 minutes prior to the race, then simply carry  a small ziplock bag of MAP in my shorts and eat 5 per hour during the entire bike ride (I just chew them, but you could also swallow them with water).


So how do I practically prepare all this? Here's how, courtesy of my iPhone camera from my hotel bathroom in Thailand before a race...

Run Flask Step 1: Dump 3 packets of UCAN onto a makeshift funnel, in this case, the front page of the race program. 


Run Flask Step 2:  Fill flask with UCAN powder (this is just a handheld flask holder - companies like NathanSports and FuelBelt make them)


Run Flask Step 3: Set flask out on floor by bed with 3 packets of Energy28, which I'll add in the morning just before I head to race start. Mixing the night before can cause clumping, so I wait until last possible minute. After adding Energy28, there will be barely any room left for water, but I'll top it off with 2-3oz water. 


Bike Bottle Step 1 (optional): Toss a bunch of UCAN packets in bathroom sink. No funnel required since bike water bottles have a larger mouth.



 Bike Bottle Step 2: Dump the UCAN packets one-by-one into bike bottle.


Bike Bottle Step 3: Set the bike bottle out next to 6 more Energy28 Packets for mixing the next morning. Go to pasta party, sleep, get up, and kick butt. ;)


No photos of the MAP, but that's pretty straightforward. Just put some capsules in a ziplock bag and carry in your jerseys or up one of your shorts legs.

Rather than you having to go the four corners of the planet to get this stuff, I figured out how to just bundle it all for you in one convenient Low Carb Fueling package: <–UCAN+MAP+Energy28 Low Carb Fueling Package

Low Carb Fueling Package

The package above is basically 60 packets of UCAN, a full 120 tablet bottle of MAP & a bottle of Energy28 – everything you need to get your low carb fueling  dialed in, and about 1-2 months worth of fueling!

And leave any questions, comments or feedback below...

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Overall Amateur Win at Laguna Phuket Triathlon

Here's the results!

Story and pics to come later...

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Redemption - The Leadman 125

At the last minute, I registered for the Leadman 125 race in Bend, Oregon as a "redemption" race for my DNF (Did Not Finish!) at Half Ironman World Championships 2 weeks ago.

So myself and my friend Derek Garcia  drove down to beautiful Bend, and met up with an athlete who I coach (Jim McIntosh) to survey the bike course - which started up at about 5000 feet elevation at chilly Cultus Lake and ended with a screaming fast descent down into Bend, Oregon.

For this race, I planned on using a whole new nutrition protocol, which I talked about in detail in this Endurance Planet podcast, but which basically involved:

1) UCAN Superstarch - eat 2 servings for breakfast (mashed with a banana) and then one densely mixed bottle of UCAN (200 calories per hour) on the bike downtube and one Nathan running flask for the run (also mixed for about 200 calories per hour).

2) Energy28 Superfood - slam one just before the swim, and then one serving of it mixed in with each serving of UCAN - for both flavor and some extra energy boosting compounds, like Maca and Rhodiola (Energy28 also has about 35 calories a serving).

3) 5 Master Amino Pattern capsules per hour (to keep my blood amino acid levels up).

Basically, with this 1-2-3 combo, I'm giving my body a slow release sugar with some amino acids in it, and deriving the remainder of my energy from my body's own fat stores - which basically means I'm eating 200 calories less per hour than I normally do during a race. You can really geek out on this nutrition protocol by clicking here, if you'd like. 


As I expected with a late season race in the Pacific Northwest, race morning was dark and cold. Our bus driver got lost on the way up to Cultus Lake, so I arrived at the transition area in just enough time to put my water bottle on my bike, use the porta-potty, and rush into the tent to put on my wetsuit.

Unfortunately, I'd grabbed the wrong wetsuit from the stash of wetsuits in my garage (my BlueSeventy Helix was stolen at the Troika Triathlon), and I found myself feeling like I was being strangled in a tiny wetsuit with arms and legs that came up to my elbows and knees!

But the water was cold enough to where I did not want to venture out without a wetsuit, so I wore it.

I ran into the water and made it to the swim start just as my wave took off...


Feeling like I was hyperventilating the whole time, I managed to get onto the feet of  a faster swimmer and hold on for dear life for the 2.5K swim. He dropped me about 200m from the finish, but at that point I was simply relieved not to have A) frozen or B) ripped my wetsuit.

I swam this swim the same way I approach my Half Ironman swims - no pacing or holding back. Just swim as hard as you can (without breaking form) from start to finish.

As I came out of the water and ran into T2, struggling to emerge form my tiny wetsuit, I had no clue what place I was in, but knew that I was freaking cold!

When I arrived to my bike, I saw that the bike beside me was already gone, which I hate to see. So I skipped the important step of putting on gloves, or arm warmers, or socks, and just took off.


Thanks to my hasty transition out of transition, for the first 15 miles of the bike I watched my fingers slowly turn blue. I couldn't hold my water bottle or eat anything because my hands were so cold! I just kept opening and closing my fingers, hoping they'd warm up soon so I could eat and drink.

By about the 15 mile mark, I had passed everyone on the bike and caught the leader, Jeff Smith. Since my legs were feeling good, I decided to put a move on him too, so I passed him, put the hammer down and didn't look back for the next 5 miles.

When I finally did turn around, Jeff was still there! He hasn't lost his last 9 races, so I should've known better than to think I could drop him that early in the race...

For the rest of the 65 mile ride, including the 50+ mile per hour descent into Bend, Jeff and I raced neck to neck, taking turns holding the lead all the way into run transition, where Jeff rode in about 20 feet ahead of me...


I beat Jeff out of transition, but at that point, I was thoroughly parched, and wasn't sure I was going to be able to maintain the intensity I wanted for the 10 mile run. My strategy was to simply run this race just like a 10K, then hold on for dear life in the last 4 miles.

But my lips and throat were completely bone dry, since I only had one bottle of water during the entire bike ride. Every time I went cycling through an aid station, they simply weren't ready with the water bottles. That's the hazard of leading the race!

As I worried about my hydration, Jeff caught me quickly, and we reached a Y in the road after just 1 mile. It wasn't marked. One option was to run along the river and the other was to climb a steep 1/4 mile hill.

I'm not sure why, but we both took off up the steep hill, and it wasn't until we got to the top of it that we realized we ran completely off course. It's a horrible sinking feeling when you're in the lead and you lost precious minutes running the wrong way, but once again, that's the hazard of being in front.


So we took off back down the hill, and now Jeff was in front of me. For the next 4 miles, I tried to keep him in sight, and by mile 5, I saw him not run through an aid station, but actually briefly stop to drink water at the aid station, which (no offense Jeff) to mean is a sign of weakness in a run of this distance, and suggests that you might be hurting.

I was hurting too, but that's the point where I put my head down and my move. I passed Jeff by the end of that aid station, and didn't look back for the next 2 miles.

At mile 7, I glanced back and didn't see anyone.

But not wanting to take any chances, and knowing that the 34 and older age division started 6 minutes behind us, so someone could actually still beat me, I kept the throttle down all the way to the finish line, and ended up winning the overall race title by a little under 3 minutes.


So despite barely making the swim start, wearing a tiny wetsuit, and getting lost on the run, I managed to squeak out the overall win for Leadman 125!

The best part is that with that different nutrition protocol, my gut felt fine after the race (none of the usual bad gas, post race sugar burps, caffeine downers, or anything like that!).

Here I am with my finisher's tape:

So what's next? Myself and a group of 15 athletes will be headed to Thailand this winter to do a double triathlon in beautiful Phuket (where even the triathlons have a happy ending). ;)

Leave your questions, comments or feedback below.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

What Happened In Vegas (Hopefully Stays In Vegas)

At the end of this post, I've got a quick question for you that I'd love to hear your feedback on...

I must admit that I felt pretty dang good coming into the Ironman 70.3 World Championships in Las Vegas.

Really good, actually.

My legs were a-popping and I was ready to lay down the smack and back it up. After a tough race (see my previous post) at ITU Long Course World Championships in Spain, I raced a Half Ironman "tune-up" a few weeks ago, where I took third overall (Troika Triathlon) and have just felt really fantastic lately.

I've raced long enough to know when my body is ready for a solid performance, and this seriously threatened to be it.


But the mishaps started the night of the race.

At 2am, the hotel room next door woke my roommate Graeme and I up with a very loud hip-hop song on repeat. It was literally shaking the wall.

Then the jackrabbit-like humping started, with a guy who kept shouting "F*&^ me harder! F*&^ me harder!"

You gotta be kidding me. After about 45 minutes, hotel security shut them down and we finally got back to sleep.


Despite being a bit sleepy, the swim went well.

But soon as I hopped on my bike, though, something felt funny.

On the first hill up and out of transition, people were passing me left and right. I shrugged it off and just waiting for my legs to "come around".

Just to be sure, at the top of the hill, I pulled aside and checked my tire pressure. Everything was good...


Then, on the downhill, as I slid to the front of my saddle, the whole saddle went nose down. I had just gotten a bike fit, and had been messing around with my fit afterwards.

Obviously, I failed to tighten the seat enough.

No big deal, I thought, and I slammed my butt down into the saddle to correct it. 

Then the real trouble started. My entire seat post slid down. Yet another mechanical adjusting failure on my part.

So I rode the next 5 miles standing up, until I found a tech motorcycle and did a quick tool adjustment on my seat.

By this time, I figured I was screwed for a podium finish, but tried to keep my head in the game.


But I just kept getting passed, despite me working harder than ever on the bike.

No offense, ladies, but there were women riding by me who had numbers like "48", "49" and "50" written on the back of their calves.

That just doesn't happen to me in races!


So at mile 40, I pulled over for a third time, and this time I spun my rear disc.

Even though I had checked it the day before, I must have jostled it laying the bike down in the minivan, because the brake caliper was shoved up against the disc.

I'd been riding with brakes on for the past 40 miles.

At that point I was mentally ready to be done, and knew I wasn't going to be anywhere near the podium division finish I was looking for.


I "soft pedaled" back into transition, ready to throw in the towel.

The screaming spectators and crowds got me inspired to jump into the run.

However, when you're running a race in over 100 degrees heat, you need a reason to be out there, and at that point, my reason had faded. A finisher's medal was not enough incentive for me to punish my body for the next 90 minutes.

So at mile 3, I walked it in and called it a day.


Here I sit in Vegas, getting ready to end a tough experience with a hard drink.

But there's one more thing:

When I have an experience like this, I need a redemption race. Something to give myself a mental boost of positivity, go prove to myself that I'm fast, go use the fitness I built up for this race, and ensure that everything is OK.

So here's my question for you:

Where do you think I should race? I'm ready anytime in the next 2-3 weeks. You name the place and I'll try to make it happen - Olympic up to Half Ironman...go!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Hurting Is Temporary, But Quitting Lasts Forever.

As my toes dug into the Spanish sand, part of my body anticipated the blasting air horn that would start the 2012 Long Distance Triathlon World Championships, and send me sprinting out into the water for a grueling 2.5 mile swim, 75 mile bike and 19 mile run.

The other part of my body was messed up. 

My eyes were bloodshot from severe lack of sleep, my gut had a deep gnawing pain, and my usually sprite pre-race muscles felt drained and empty.

No, this was not a result of a nasty Rioja wine drinking binge, too many CafĂ© Largo’s the night before, or some kind of stomach bug.

It was simply me experiencing the same sub-optimal state that has been described to me over and over again by other triathletes, whether during a training workout or before an important race.

That dead feeling of being completely exhausted and unable to dig when the race intensity begins.

It’s been so long since I’ve arrived at a starting line in that state, I had forgotten what it feels like to have a non-responsive body despite perfect training, a good taper, and no emotional and lifestyle stress.

And it was a loud and clear reminder to me: arriving on the starting line of a race with a 100% physically prepared body means that you have to take care of your gut during race week. Otherwise, by abusing or neglecting a section of your body that is even more exposed to external environments than your skin, you’re setting yourself up for subpar performance.

So what is it about the gut that can create this kind of dreaded pre-race condition in triathletes? In exactly one month, you’re going to find out the answer in Lava Magazine – or you can leave your guesses or comments below, because I’m not going to tell you until then, since it’s an article I’m commissioned to write and I can’t “leak it” on this blog post.

But until then, here is what ensued from my race week mistakes…


The swim was tricky, with twists and turns throughout – rather than the typical “loop” or “out and back” you see in most swims. Over and over again, I tried to “dig” and drop the group I was in, but kept having to fall back on hips and feet to draft.

At 1500 meters, I considered grabbing hold of a kayak and calling it quits. But eventually, my hands hit sand and I came charging out of the water in an hour even, in 10th place. After learning later that the swim was actually long by nearly 400 meters, I was pretty happy with this, as it means it would have given me an equivalent Ironman swim split of about 55 minutes – one minute faster than my personal record. But I drafted the entire time, so it didn’t really feel like it was swimming, as much as desperately trying to stay on feet.


All through the swim-to-bike transition, I was gasping for breath – more than usual. My heart felt like it was beating out my throat, my lungs felt tight and constricted and when I finally started pushing the pedals, I once again experienced that frustrating sensation of not being able to dig.

By this time, I knew what the problem was, because that gnawing ache in my stomach had now grown into a full-blown “issue” - and by the time I was 90 minutes into the bike, I was vomiting gels.

So with dead legs and an exhausted body, I wiped the vomit from my mouth and began repeating a mantra that I would repeat over 50 times before the day was over:

“Hurting is temporary, but quitting lasts forever”.


With this mantra, I strung myself along, splitting the painful bike into 5K portions, and trying to keep down something – anything. By the time I finally got off the bike and onto the run, it had been an hour since I’d last eaten or drunk.

I came off the bike still in 10th place, with a 3:08 bike split and an average speed of just under 25 miles per hour over the 75 miles. But I knew that even that placing wasn’t going to last long with the way I was feeling – and it was pure will at this point that was keeping me on my feet.

“Hurting is temporary, but quitting lasts forever”.

I said it one more time as I slouched in the bike-to-run transition tent, preparing myself mentally to charge out in front of thousands of screaming Spanish fans and at least try to look like a triathlete, not a walking zombie. All I wanted to do at this point was curl up into a ball and go to sleep.

As I came out of the tent, I wished I’d had earplugs. The roar was deafening. There were more spectators in the cobblestoned Vitoria plaza than I’d ever seen in any race, shouting, cheering and blowing horns.

I clutched my stomach and began running.


Within 1K, I passed my wife Jessa, and when I crumbled to her side and literally collapsed onto my back on the race course, she immediately knew I was having a rough day.

My breaths were coming in short spurts, and my heart rate was screaming in my throat. What was wrong with my body? I felt like I had no control.

Jessa and a police officer helped me to my feet, and I desperately turned to the officer in broken Spanish, “Donde es el bano? Donde es el bano?”

He pointed across the park at a lone bathroom, and I ran to it and stumbled inside. With my head in my hands, I grimaced through several minutes of extreme discomfort, then splashed my face with cold water, and finally emerged from the bathroom:

“Hurting is temporary, but quitting lasts forever”.


When I emerged from the bathroom, two spectators literally shoved me back out onto the run course and I started running. Within 1500 meters, I was back in another bathroom. This happened again, and again, and again over the first 15K of the run course. By this time, I had discovered that I could only keep down one source of energy: Coke.

After consuming two full cans of carbonated Coke during those first two loops of the run, I knew that I would finish, but it would be ugly. At this point, I only had three things keeping me going…

1) The fans; 

2) Imagining pushing my twin boys in the stroller, and not wanting them to see me be a quitter. 

3) “Hurting is temporary, but quitting lasts forever”.

I though the last loop of the run would never come. By the time it finally did, I had taken eight bathroom stops and completely emptied the contents of my gut out both my front and backside. I was now running with what felt like balloons full or air in my stomach.

With pride, I somehow passed the final bathroom on the run course without stopping – although it seemed like merely the site of a bathroom was now my gut’s cue to “empty”. I’m guessing by this point I just had nothing left to “go”.




Screaming spectators.

The finish line arch.

In this video below, you can barely see me clutching my head in my hands as I cross. That about sums up my thoughts at that point, “I have no clue how I just finished that race”.


My final run split a flat and fast course was 2:20 – 20 minutes slower than last year on what should have been a much speedier course. This got me 19th place in my division and 33rd overall out of 593 male athletes who competed – and nowhere near my 1st place finish from last year.

I broke down crying from a combination of extreme fatigue and exhausted disappointment. After limping to the hotel, I spent the next 5 hours in bed, doubled over with gut pain and unable to do anything but lie there and stare at the ceiling.

So what happened? What can cause an athlete to arrive in perfect preparation to a race, but suffer such a lack of ability to perform?

Over those 6 hours and 30 minutes, I had been reminded of an important lesson that I already knew, but took for granted. You’ll get to learn exactly what that lesson is in my next article in Lava Magazine. Stay tuned. It will be in the “Kona” issue.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

A Tiger And A Double Bacon Wrapped Hot Dog In A Cheeseburger, Please.

How Can You Not Read A Race Report That Starts With A Baby Tiger Photo?

Today, as a pre-race tune-up before I go defend my gold medal at ITU Long Course World Championships in Spain next week, I dropped into the Tiger Triathlon.

This race is advertised as a "quarter Ironman".

Which basically seems to be a 1K swim, a 40K bike, and an 8K run. I'm not quite sure how the math on that works out with the run part, but whatever - I'm in!

So I showed up on race morning with 2 kids, 2 dogs and my wife (bless her heart, once I took off on the swim she was left with all 4 of them) and with the help(?) of my 4 year old boys set up transition area in a blistering 20 minutes, with barely enough time left over to put on my brand new Blue Seventy Helix wetsuit (thanks B70 guys!) and rush down to the water.

Here's the hurry-up video I shot for my Twitter and Facebook followers who asked me how I set up my bike for an Olympic Distance Triathlon...

The swim horn sounded and we were off. Here's where I remembered an important lesson:

In an early morning lake swim, the glare of the bright morning sun at some point is going to really impede your sighting as it glimmers off the lake, so A) if you can get tinted goggles, wear them, and B) if you have the option to draft do it.

Fortunately, I did both A) and B), and came out of the water in 2nd place, about 5 second behind the leader. I passed him in the run up to T1 and headed out on the bike in 1st.

The 40K point-to-point bike is a net elevation loss, which means a few things:

1) You need to really focus on maintaining wattage, as it's easy to let yourself "cruise" with as many downhill stretches as a bike course like this has - no "zoning out"!

2) If you're lucky enough to come out of the water in 1st place like I was, you need to put the hammer down early because if anybody gets on your wheel it's much tougher to shake them off when you've both got a downhill advantage.

As I rolled into transition and dismounted to grab my shoes, I was unpleasantly reminded of one other thing about net elevation loss bikes...

3) You'll be going faster than usual, which makes non-aerodynamic position have a higher time penalty. This means you stay tucked, aero, and for heaven's sake, don't look back behind you because that stick your helmet tail into the wind.

Why did this turn into an unpleasant reminder for me? 

Because I didn't realize that another competitor,  super-speedy runner Jesse Carnes, had snuck up on me in the bike and rolled into transition just a few seconds behind me. Rather then getting to comfortably run to the finish line, this meant I was now going to have to suffer - especially considering that the entire two-loop run takes place on Jesse's old highschool cross country course!

I took off running scared, and here's where I implemented another tip:

If you know the guy behind you is a faster runner than you, try to outsplit him early so that he doesn't have the motivation to catch you later on. 

So with Jesse hot on my heels, I ran the first 4K much harder than I knew I could maintain for the full 8K.

And it worked.

By the time we reached the finish on the high school track, I'd put about 25 seconds on him, which was enough for me to cruise in for the win in 1:43 and change.

And get a freaking huge Tiger Triathlon coffee mug, which means I may need to increase the volume of my morning coffee dose:

Delicious and decadent post-race celebratory details will come in just a moment, but first a few shout-outs:

Nutrition/Gear notes:
-Day before: Slept in tiny hotel room with wife and kids. So none of the usual Millenium Sports Somnidren GH and EarthPulse for sleep enhancement.
-2 hours pre-swim: 2 sweet potatoes. Totally plain. Burn clean.
-30 minutes pre-swim: 2 delta-E (caffiene/B12/Taurine packs), 20 Sprays Magnesium Oil, 10 Master Amino Pattern capsules, 4 Extreme Endurance
-Wetsuit: Blue Seventy Helix
-Google: Blue Seventy Element

Bike notes:
-Shoes: Louis Garneau Tri-Speed shoes
-Helmet: Gray Aero helmet
-Wheels: Shimano C-50
-Tires: Challenge Triathlon
-Groupo: Shimano Dura-Ace
-Seat: Adamo ISM Road Saddle
-Sunglasses: Native Eyewear
-Fuel: GU Roctane powder, 300 calories, mixed into 20oz water.

Run notes:
-Shoes: My killer new Skora Forms <--you must wear this shoe - it is a minimalist racing shoe that looks like a freaking Italian designer shoe.
-No food, no water.

Of course, a big thanks to all my sponsors. Check them all out here.

OK, on to that post race decadence I mentioned. 

I don't know where you compete in triathlons, but out here in the Northwest, it's usually not terribly difficult to find bananas, peanut butter, and some kind of cream cheese in the post-race area. If you're lucky enough to find all three, then do as I do, and make yourself a peanut butter-cream cheese-banana split.

And that's not the only post-race indulgence in which you can partake...

...Tiger Triathlon happens to be out in Colville, Washington - about a 90 minute drive north of Spokane - and if you ever happen to have the pleasure of taking that drive, I would highly recommend that you do as I did, and indulge in a "World Famous Clayton Burger" after the race (if you're gluten-free like me, sans bun, of course.)

You'll find the joint on the left side of the highway as you drive back from Colville to Spokane, about halfway back.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Going Kamikaze in Japan.

With the nature of my previous post, I'm sure you may be wondering exactly how that bike setup modification worked for me, and how the race in Japan went overall.

Here's a few race notes, and for those of you who are actually interested in racing in Japan next year, check out my upcoming article in Lava Magazine for some of my travel, eating and tips for the race!

1. The point-to-point swim was wetsuit legal and fast. With a typhoon in the days leading up to this race, part of that could have been due to weather changes, but there was a fairly strong current pushing us the whole way. Best as I could tell, one pack came out of the water before me, so it was off to the chases after an 800 meter run to T1.

Swim split: 23:20

2. As I mentioned in the post before this one, this bike course is extremely complex with over a hundred 90 degree turns and eight u-turns. Chasing a pack in front of me, I rode solo up to about 50K, but just couldn't hunt them down, and every split I took at the u-turns they were maintaining a consisten 2 minutes on me. After I was overtaken by the second main pack of 6 riders, I stayed with them for the final 30K into T2, where I arrived a bit nervous knowing that I needed to put at least 2 minutes into that first pack on the run if I wanted to podium. Interestingly, drinking to thirst on the bike, I was still drinking close to 40oz of water per hour, while putting away about 4 gels an hour. You lose lots of fluids in the Asian heat and humidity!

Bike split: 2:35

3. This run is fairly flat and fast, with aid stations every 2K and lots of small groups of frenzied Japanese spectators cheering for the athletes. Early on, I decided to go a bit kamikaze, as I felt like I got a slow start and was already more behind than I wanted to be coming off the bike. At the 4K, I opened up to my threshold pace and just decided to go until I blew up. I managed to pass a couple athletes, but didn't quite run my way up as far as I would have liked. Since I was running pretty hard, I didn't waste too much time with nutrition, and for fuel, I had a few quick sips of coke at some of the aid stations, maybe about 200 calories worth for the whole run.

Run split: 1:22

Overall time: 4:27, 4th age group, 13th overall

I managed to snag a Vegas World Championship slot, and also took away a valuable lesson from this race: if you want the best fried chicken, fried shrimp and sweet potato sake on the planet, go to Japan!

Also, and this may be of interest to you minimalist out there, I only did one 30 minute run per week in my final 3 weeks before this race. Everything else was commuting on my Elliptigo! Something to be said for elliptical trainers and not running very much. ;)

Nutrition/Gear notes:
-Day before: Millenium Sports Somnidren GH and EarthPulse for sleep
-2 hours pre-swim: 4 scoops LivingFuel SuperBerry 
-Skinsuit: Synergy Hybrid
-Google: Blue Seventy Element

Bike notes:

-Shoes: Louis Garneau Tri-Speed shoes
-Helmet: Gray Aero helmet
-Wheels: Shimano C-50
-Tires: Challenge Triathlon
-Groupo: Shimano Dura-Ace
-Seat: Adamo ISM Road Saddle
-Sunglasses: Native Eyewear
-One gel every 15 minutes, water when thirsty

Run notes:
-Shoes: K-Swiss K-Ruuz
-4oz Coke every other aid station.
-Water when thirsty

And a big thanks to all my sponsors. Check them all out here.

Friday, June 22, 2012

How To Prepare Your Triathlon Bike For Racing

One thing that I've learned from racing is that depending on the bike course, sometimes you need to change the way your bike prepared.

In other words, what works for one race may not work for the next.

Here's how my bike usually looks:

That's an aerobar mounted horizontal water bottle holder (the XLab Torpedo), with a hacked up Profile Design Razor designed to carry a bottle of electrolyte capsules (which I no longer use) and up to 10 gels. Click here if you want to read more about how I made this.

So my rationale for this type of race setup can be explained by an excerpt I wrote in a recent article in LAVA magazine:

"In fall of 2011, Cervelo engineers reported on their website a comparison of two options for aerobar mounted drinking systems - a system that hangs down vertically in front of the head tube and one that mounts a standard round bottle horizontally on the extensions between the arms. They found that the vertical bottle added some drag (depending on the system and shape of the head tube) - but still not as much as a standard fueling bottle mounted on the seat tube or down tube of the bike frame. The straw sticking up was the biggest problem with the vertical bottle.

In contrast, a standard bottle mounted horizontally between the rider’s arms on the aerobar actually filled in the turbulent area behind the hands and reduced drag significantly – making it faster than having no bottle at all!"

Here's a few close up shots:



Yesterday I did a bike course preview of Ironman Japan 70.3, which I'm racing tomorrow.

And it is freaking nuts.

-There are 112 90-degree turns and eight U-turns.

-The first 15K of the race is on tiny, bumpy, nearly single-track trails with a cliff on one side that precariously drops down into the ocean.

-Approximately 1 mile is the longest "stretch" in which you can be in the aero position without turning sharply onto a new road.

This totally screws the bike setup above, and here's why:

1. Big bumps can send gels flying if they're *anywhere* on your bike, including taped to your top tube, sitting in a bento box, or in my case, shoved into downtube mounted water bottle holder. So I would risk losing all my fuel with this setup.

2. An aerobar mounted water bottle holder is worthless if you're rarely in the aero position, and need to fumble with your aerobars to get the water bottle out. The more fumbling I do the less likely I'll pop out of the first 15K without a bunch of a riders on my tail.

So I made some changes, and here's how my bike looked when I racked it - a much cleaner front end, and a downtube mounted water bottle holder.

Of course, as an astute reader, you're probably wondering about where I'm putting the gels.

This is a simple fix, and one I've used before...

...the gels go in a ziplock bag stuffed into the swim-to-bike transition bag. I hop on my bike, grab the gels, and stuff them all into my right shorts leg within the first mile of the bike. When I need to eat, I grab a gel from the right leg and stuff the litter into the left leg.

Questions, comments or feedback? Leave them below! And be sure to track the race at if you want to see how I survive.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

How To Learn From Your Triathlon Mistakes - The Hawaii Comedy of Errors...

Between a knee injury and saddle sores earlier in the week, and lots of things not going as planned during the race, Hawaii 70.3 turned into a comedy of errors! This video says it all (turns out, however, I wasn't in transition looking for my run bag as long as I say in the video - I only lost about 2 minutes there).

Below this video, I'll tell you what I learned from my triathlon mistakes...

So what did I learn from my mistakes at Hawaii 70.3?

1) Know the course - the simple act of *counting* the buoys prior to the race would have put up a mental red flag for me as soon as our swim pack turned towards the finish and I realized we were one buoy short. That would have been a simple count that literally would have saved a good 300-400 yards of extra swimming.

2) Trust yourself - volunteers, as freaking awesome as they are to generously give their time, simply do not have as much skin in the game as you, and you shouldn't rely on them 100% to find your bags. Rather than trusting where volunteers were sending me in transition, I should have simply followed the numbers and found my run bag that way (T2 is in a different place than T1 in this race, so you don't actually *see* where your run bag is prior to getting there...)

3) Understand how dominoes work - earlier in the week, I rode the 112 mile Hawaii Ironman course with a "saddlesore" on my butt. Simply shifting slightly away from that uncomfortable spot set up a chain reaction that resulted in a knee injury and lots of mental stress prior to the race. Understand that when one domino falls, many can follow if you're not careful.

My overall division placing in this race was 5th swim, 5th bike, 7th run, 7th overall.

And for you gear and nutrition geeks, here is what I used in the race:

Nutrition/Gear notes:
-Day before: Millenium Sports Somnidren GH for sleep
-2 hours pre-swim: 4 LivingFuel SuperGreens 
-Skinsuit: BlueSeventy Point Zero 3
-Google: Blue Seventy Element

Bike notes:

-Shoes: Louis Garneau Tri-Speed shoes
-Helmet: Gray Aero helmet
-Wheels: Shimano C-50
-Tires: Challenge Triathlon
-Groupo: Shimano Dura-Ace
-Seat: Adamo ISM Road Saddle
-Sunglasses: Native Eyewear
-One gel every 20 minutes, half bag of GU Chomps at end of each hour, water when thirsty.

Run notes:
-Shoes: K-Swiss K-Ruuz (although the guy ahead of me was wearing Vibrams, which, with the undulating, golf course run, I'd actually consider racing if I do this race again)
-One gel every 30 minutes, switched to Coke at 15K mark, with 4oz Coke every aid station.

And a big thanks to all my sponsors. Check them all out here.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Wildflower Race Report

I just posted a PR and got on the podium at the Wildflower Half-Ironman Triathlon in California...with a:

26:46 Swim - Thanks to the Paul at SwimSmooth, I learned to look slightly forward, keep my fingers closer together, and exhale underwater - and this allowed me to break the 27 minute barrier for  a half IM swim, although I had zero drafting opportunities during the swim...

Nutrition/Gear notes:
-Day before: Millenium Sports Somnidren GH for sleep
-2 hours pre-swim: 4 LivingFuel SuperBerry 
-Wetsuit: Synergy Hybrid
-Google: Blue Seventy Helix

2:37 Bike - This was my first chance to do a long course race for Team Timex on the Quintana Roo CD0.1 and it is a sick bike indeed. This turned into quite a lonely race, as I was by myself on the bike the entire time as well (it's always tough to self-pace and not have some others to play with on the bike). Pretty much stuck to a gel every 20 minutes the whole way through, and drank to thirst, at about 30oz water per hour.

Bike notes:
-Shoes: Louis Garneau Tri-Speed shoes
-Helmet: Gray Aero helmet
-Wheels: Shimano C-50
-Tires: Challenge Triathlon
-Groupo: Shimano Dura-Ace
-Seat: Adamo ISM Road Saddle
-Sunglasses: Native Eyewear

1:28:56 Run - As usual, the Wildflower run freaking hurt, and once again I was on my own the whole time. Per my usual strategy on a half-marathon, I held back slightly on the first 10K of the course, then gradually began to increase pace for the next 10K. I had a gel at 5K, 10K, and 15K, and a sip of water at the aid stations where I grabbed a gel.

Run notes:
-Shoes: K-Swiss K-Ruuz

4:36:32 Overall Time


...10 days before the race, I was dangerously close to being overtrained...

So here's an interesting article about how exactly how I dug myself out of that overtraining hole.

And a big thanks to all my sponsors. Check them all out here.

Monday, April 23, 2012

How To Race Naked (Almost)

Sometimes you have to just unplug when you're exercising.

I wrote about this concept in the article "The Death Of Heart Rate Zones", in which I explain that a big component of exercise is a combination of playing and listening to your body.

Now don't get me wrong here. Many times your heart rate and speed is really important. Heck I'm on Team Timex, which is, among other things, kind of based around the concept of having some really cool tools to quantify your training.

Quantifying workouts becomes even more important for many situations, including:

A) beginning exercisers, who are just getting into working out or training more precisely, and thus need to really monitor how their muscles and breathing feel at specific heart rates, speed, power, etc.; 

B) people who have been assigned a workout by a coach, who want to share their workout data with their coach; 

C) a coach to be able to monitor an athlete's workouts and recovery without necessarily being there in-person;

D) an athlete to be able to compare one race to the next using more than simply race time splits (a bigger advantage in a race of nutritional or exhaustive attrition, such as a Half to Full Ironman).

But this weekend, I took off the heart rate monitor.

And the fancy triathlon suit.

And the swim skin.

And the sunscreen.

And I just raced, retaining a small shred of cloth around my loin to save onlookers and other racers from my pasty white buttocks.

I never glanced at my watch, and pretty much decided to just go hard until my body imploded or I crossed the finish line.

And while I'll have plenty of chances this year to quantify data during a race, such as in my upcoming Wildflower Half-Ironman, Hawaii 70.3 and Japan 70.3 races, this weekend's Grizzly Triathlon was just a chance to hang out with my friend Dave Erickson and do some almost naked Northwestern style training.

No wins for me this weekend (this race was "untapered" at the tail-end of a very tough training week), but my splits were:

-12:42 1000m swim, 30:20 12 mile bike, 19:40 5K run = total time: 1:02:42

-3rd division, 8th overall

Here are the videos, produced by my friend Dave Erickson, who also raced:

A big shout out to my sponsors, who I'll be highlighting in my final race report of this 4 week series of races I'm doing... up is Leadman - a ski, mountain bike, trail run race in Kellogg, Idaho!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Fat, Poopin' and Racin'.

I just finished my first sprint triathlon of the year! Here's my race report, which involved fat, pooping, and more!

Here's the link:

Friday, February 17, 2012

How Much Salt Do You Lose In Your Sweat?

I'm here at Team Timex Multisport camp, and today was a sweat sodium analysis.

What do you think? Am I a heavy sweater?

Or am I a wimp when it comes to fluid loss?

Stay tuned to find out, or check for up-to-date results...

...including fluid loss, sodium loss, change in internal temperature and more.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Timex Torture Test with Ben Greenfield

Check out this funny endurance video, in which Dave Erickson and me put a Timex Run Trainer through a torture test in a re-enactment of the John Cameron Swayze Timex commercial. "Takes A Lickin and Keeps On Tickin". And the original video with John Cameron Swayze:

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Team Timex Announcement & My 2012 Race Season

Last year, I attended the 2011 Team Timex camp, and I was blown away by the team's camaraderie and support from Timex. It was the first time I'd ever been around a group of individuals that, from an objective viewpoint, seemed to operate and communicate as an cohesive team.

In the relatively individualized and "lone wolf" sport of triathlon, this was a unique thing to see, and inspired me to apply for the 2012 team.

So what exactly is Team Timex?

Here's a snippet from their website:
In 2001, Timex made a bold move in the historically individualized sport, by pioneering a triathlon team. The concept was to support professional and amateur athletes—financially, physically and socially—so they could, in turn, focus solely on training and racing. 
Now in its 9th year, the Timex Multisport Team is a diverse and successful team, composed of male and female athletes—both professional and amateur—ranging in age from 18 to 57-years old, and hailing from the U.S.A., Australia, India, Ukraine, Mexico, Czech Republic, Estonia, Canada and the United Kingdom. 
The athletes serve as brand ambassadors for Timex and associated sponsors at hundreds of events around the world, and work closely with Timex on refining new products for the endurance sports world.
I also asked team member Trista Francis what she thought was the best part about being on Team Timex, and here is what she said:
The best part of being on the Team is being a part of a very unique family in the sport.  The Timex family is like non other and it allows us to surround ourselves with the top talented athletes in the sport from around the world.  This is my 4th year with Timex as my Title sponsor, Timex gives overwhelming support to me and to each athlete on the Team.  The Timex Multisport Team is the most prestigious team in the sport because of this support and because of the talent it draws.  Another benefit; this is not just a team of talent in triathlon, we have some of the best coaches in the nation on board as well.  We are partnered with the NY Giants, Timex Performance Center and the Korey Stringer Insititute in research. Nuff said!
If you happen to be on Facebook, you can also watch this video to see what the 2011 Team Timex accomplished.


So this week, Team Timex announced it's 2012 multi-sport team.

And I'm on it.

This means that for the 2012 race season (which I've outlined below) I'm proud to announce that I'll be racing for Team Timex.

Feb 16-21: Team Timex Camp & Triathlon America (hooray for partially sleepless nights and flying airplanes around the country) 
March 2012: Snake River Sprint Triathlon (only race I've done where it tends to hail and snow) 
April 15: TriStar111, Mallorca, Spain (I need to brush up on my Spanish. Also teaching a camp for 5 days before this race) 
May 4-May 6: Wildflower Long Distance race (need to go to a world of pain at this one to qualify for my pro card - I'll have to be sure not to pitch my tent on a rock)
May 27-June 2:  Hawaii 70.3 & Camp (week long camp culminating in 70.3...hoping Scott Molina and John Newsom don't beat me up too much at this one) 
July-ish: To Be Announced (meaning a bunch of local races that I drop into randomly) 
Sometime August 2012: Troika Half-Ironman (3rd place, 3rd place, 2nd place - can I freaking win this thing already???) 
September 11: Vegas 70.3 (yet another change to hate race director Frank Lowery, who apparently thinks we're all Navy Seals) 
September 11-15: Triathlon Camp in Tuscany, Italy (really, I'm just going for the rosso) 
October 11: Ironman Hawaii (*ahem*, tentatively. I'll be there either way, just hopefully racing) 
Sometime in November 2012: Laguna Phuket Triathlon (doing a 15 day camp for this race and the next one, culminating with a total escape to Railay Bay...e-mail me if you want in) 
Sometime in December 2012: Asia-Pacific 70.3 World Championship (plan on racing pro here, if all goes well)
A big thanks to all my fantastic sponsors, and you can feel free to leave any questions or comments about this below (since I've received that first "welcome" e-mail onto the team, I've already been inundated with support and congratulations from other team members - so it already feels like a family)!