How to Maintain Fitness and Wellness Habits: Tips and Techniques

How to Maintain Fitness and Wellness Habits: Tips and Techniques

Maintaining your fitness and wellness habits can be challenging, especially when life gets
busy. However, developing simple and effective strategies will help you stay on track and
keep your health a priority. This article will provide you with a comprehensive guide to
staying fit and healthy, complete with tips and techniques that you can implement in your
daily routine.

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Ironman North Carolina 70.3: Race Recap

Ironman North Carolina 70.3: Race Recap

The Ironman North Carolina 70.3 triathlon was initially scheduled as my test race for Ironman Arizona the following month.  Unfortunately, my last two triathlon seasons have been plagued with obstacles that have taken just a little longer to overcome than expected.  Instead, it became my triathlon season closer.

Last year was a year of injuries, after being injury free for 8 years.  This year I encountered an unknown virus that literally deleted my endurance for about 4 months.  I trained hard, but I just wasn’t able to accomplish the long sessions needed to compete in a full Ironman distance triathlon.

Luckily, the virus vacated just in time to allow that training to manifest for the Ironman North Carolina 70.3.  How about I tell you about it?

Arriving in Wilmington for Ironman North Carolina 70.3

After a long, 10-hour drive, it was a treat to enter our rental home and find it had exceeded our expectations.  It was an older home but well updated and extremely spacious.  It comfortably fit the athletes, Jamie, Maria, Stephanie and myself, plus Maria’s husband Daniel and Chris our super-sherpa.

Ironman North Carolina 70.3

The next surprise came as we walked to the Ironman North Carolina 70.3 expo and found the finish line was only three blocks away and it bordered a street that literally led right to our front door.  Yeah, baby!!

The Ironman North Carolina 70.3 expo felt even more sparse than the other 70.3 expositions I have participated in.  It might have been because we walked in about 40 minutes prior to closing.  This was something I was adamant about during the planning stage of the trip.  I insisted that we try to arrive early enough to check-in on Thursday, so we would not be forced to wait in lines for either check-in or the Ironman merchandise store.

That night was filled with good conversation, Mellow-Mushroom Pizza and a couple of adult beverages.  Nothing that would hinder our race, but enough to ensure a good night’s sleep.

Ironman North Carolina 70.3

Wilmington or Bust
(L to R) Brad, Chris, Maria, Daniel, Jamie, Stephanie

Often enough, I insist and even put on my client’s training plans, that two nights prior to the race the objective is a good night’s sleep with no alarms the following morning.  The intention is for the body to wake-up on its own signaling good recovery.

The night before a race, sleep is still crucial, but the reality is anxiety usually precludes, not allowing the greatest of sleep cycles.


The next morning, I was able to sleep in and awoke around 6:30 am. To my demise, there was no coffee in the house.  As I was preparing a cup of tea, Stephanie awoke and coaxed me to the Brooklyn Cafe which was literally next door.

As we opened the door to the smell of fresh baked goods and coffee overwhelmed our senses.  An older couple was behind the counter, we later found out were the owners of this 2-month-old establishment.  Even with the newness of the cafe, they knew what they were doing.  We had two orders of fresh, made to order beignets and coffee which, to my surprise, rivaled Cafe DuMont in New Orleans.

We watched one of the owners roll the dough, cut and drop the beignets into the fryer.  He then served that fried deliciousness covered in powdered sugar.  They were pure heaven. The coffee was fresh ground, organic, free trade and was rich and flavorful.  It was so delicious, we bought a half-pound for the house.

The plan for the day was to head over to the swim start and jump in the water for 15 minutes or so.  Following the swim, we would ride around the area to make sure our bikes were in working order and drive some blood to our legs.  Finally, we would head back to the house where we would run for a couple of miles to get our heart rates up for a short time and test the legs.

It happened pretty much as planned.  We were fortunate that a bunch of member’s of Stephanie’s coaching group, TriMarni, rented a house near the swim start, so we had a headquarters to park and store some gear.  They had invited us to hang out there before the race the next day which we took advantage of.

Pre-race swim

We were not allowed on the actual swim course so we decided to swim in the ocean.  Upon entering the water I became excited as the density of the salt content, plus my wetsuit made my swim position and balance almost effortless.

800 meters later after returning to the house, we piloted our bikes refreshed.  We spun around the area for about 20 minutes just to get the kinks out before heading back to run.


Ironman North Carolina 70.3

Pre-race Bike
(L to R) Jamie, Stephanie, Maria, Brad

Maria and I ended up being the only ones to run.  She pushed the pace a bit faster than I wanted but I felt like I could take on the world.

Upon finishing the run I told myself that if I felt like I did at that moment, the following day was going to be epic.


After completing showers, packing and labeling our gear with the required stickers, we were on our way to T-1 to drop our bikes.

The transition from swim-to-bike was about 6 miles from the house, and as it was later in the day, traffic was dense.  What should have been a 10-minute ride, turned into almost an hour before we turned in the school parking lot next to transition.

Ironman North Carolina 70.3

Transition 1 (T-1) Swim to Bike

Usually, bike drop for a 70.3 is just that, dropping your bike and leaving.  The next morning would entail setting up your area to optimize time in transition.  Ironman North Carolina 70.3 is a little different.  Plastic bags are used to hold bike gear and placed on the bike.  The only thing that can be done in the morning is the placement of nutrition.  The gear was to stay in the bag until after the swim was completed.

This procedure emulates more a full Ironman than a 70.3, but I understood why.  We were instructed to not leave anything on the ground for fear of ants.   That made sense.  The others decided to just keep their bike bags and bring them in the morning.  I left my helmet and shoes in my bag, tied to my bike so I only had to install my nutrition in the morning.

The trip back downtown was not nearly as long, so Chris dropped us off and we walked to T-2 to drop our run bag.

Ironman North Carolina 70.3

Transition 2 (T-2) Bike to Run

It was a little disconcerting that the dismount line was a quarter-mile away from the bike-to-run transition. We were going to have to run on a narrow, rubberized carpet over a rocky trail.  We already saw, the quarter-mile run we need to take from swim exit to T-1.  Obviously, we would have to plan on both transition times being longer than usual. Just another fun part of the sport.

I had several conversations with other athletes during the weekend about how most races had their own equalizers to level the field.  Ironman Augusta 70.3 has a downstream swim, but the bike is hilly which for a lot of age groupers would be a detriment.  Ironman Chattanooga 70.3 also has a downstream swim but has a very hilly run.  This race, Ironman North Carolina 70.3, would have a current assisted swim but longer distances within transitions.

That night, I separated from my housemates to attend the Tribal Multisport dinner. An Uncle of one of our athletes, Michael, owned the South Beach Grill close to the T-1.  The food was excellent and the company was better.   The evening went incredibly smooth and faster than most group dinners I have attended.  I think it was just shy of 90 minutes from the time we sat down to the click of the group photos being taken.

Ironman North Carolina 70.3

Tribal Group Dinner

South Beach Grill is another restaurant in the Wilmington area I would highly recommend.

I arrived back at the house, double checked that my race kit, nutrition, race chip, swim cap, and goggles were ready to go, the coffee was ready to be brewed, and breakfast was prepared for the next morning.  Two episodes of “Gotham” later, I fell into a fitful sleep.

Ironman North Carolina 70.3 Race Day

Exuberance filled me as I awoke on race day.  Other race mornings I remember awaking anxious, or nervous, but today I was a little more calm than usual.   I felt an extra confidence that I hadn’t felt in a while.  My thoughts initially went to coffee and breakfast, but after fulfilling that objective, they migrated to visualizing the race.

We arrived at T-1 at about 5:30 am and proceeded to set up our transition stations.  Normally this would mean setting up towels, bike shoes and helmets, but we were told that would not be the protocol here.  Basically, the only thing allowed was placing nutrition on our bike and bike shoes attached to the pedals if desired.  Other than that everything else had to remain in the bag.

I placed my bottles in their cages, and hung my bag from the aero bars, checked my tires, installed my computer and validated that my bike was in the desired gear.

As I headed towards the exit to meet my housemates, I was excited to socialize with a couple of Moxie, Tribal, and Outspokin teammates.  The social aspect of the triathlon community is one of the things I love about this sport.  Yes, there is competition, but most of us are truly just racing against ourselves.  We are just trying to be better than we were before.

We passed through the waiting area at the swim start, that my friend Beth Shaw, who writes Discombulated Running, deemed the “Triathlete Refugee Camp”.  I could see where she was coming from.  Since the first wave didn’t start until 7:20 and it was only 6 am, most of the athletes were lying around or sitting on the asphalt chatting.

My party headed to the TriMarni house which was a beautiful beach house.  It was three stories, with ceramic tile throughout, beautiful countertops, and the best part, multiple bathrooms.  Having a full-fledged bathroom to do your duty, prior to a race, is a special treat rather than a potentially disgusting portlet.

Upon entering the house, the tension of race day filled the air.  Everyone was milling around drinking either their own pre-race formula or coffee, nervously chatting, anticipating the upcoming moment to head back to the refugee camp.

Around 7:00 we stepped onto the asphalt, gave each other hugs, said our “good lucks” and proceded with our own pre-race routines.

I donned my wetsuit, dropped my sweatshirt, and flipflops in my morning bag, and placed it in a much larger bag marked with a range of bib numbers that included mine.

Noticing all the other white swim caps lined up. I joined them and proceeded to move and stretch nervously.

The waves moved together toward a crosswalk.  A few minutes prior to the specified wave time, a crossing guard chauffeured us to the other side of the street.  On the other side, we cautiously entered the water, via a slippery boat ramp and anxiously awaited the start horn.  The announcer counted us down from 10, and we were off.

The Swim

The temperature of the water was 71 degrees Fahrenheit, but the air temp was in the upper 50s actually making me warmer.  I allowed water to fill my wetsuit and compress to my body and waded close to the start.  The horn blew and we were off.

The plan for my race included taking the swim at a steady, aerobic pace.  The swim event at Ironman North  Carolina 70.3, has a strong current, assisting the athletes.  As I have stated, many times, I am not a fast swimmer so I will take any help I can get.

Swimming towards the buoys I could feel current, but as I gathered my line I didn’t notice it as much.  My stroke felt the same as in the pool, and I was cognizant of my effort level, ensuring I didn’t overdo it.

It took a good 300 meters, but I finally found a comfortable rhythm.  My nerves settled and my mind calmed into race mode.  That, was until I ended up in a swarm of swimmers all vying for clean water.

Surprisingly as I was sighting I noticed the dark green caps of the previous wave.  WHAT???  I had been focussing diligently on my swim, but I was usually enveloped by the wave behind me.  I never caught anyone in the wave prior before.  Holy crap! It was an amazing feeling.

Ironman North Carolina 70.3

Out of the swim. I look pretty dope in my wetsuit right?

Just as I was getting over my shock, I sighted on the next buoy and noticed it was moving.  Yeah, it was being pushed out wider by a volunteer in a kayak.  I literally yelled, “what the hell?”  Finally, swimming around it, I found clear water and my relaxed rhythm again.

I always tend to hug the buoys during a race. For me, it makes sighting easier and keeps me swimming pretty straight.  However, I noticed most of the athletes found a line about 10 meters to my right.  After climbing the ladder out of the river on my way to T-1, my eyes darted over and I noticed, the current was stronger more to the right of the buoys.  I missed a major advantage, but it didn’t bother me too much as I still PR’d the swim.

Glancing at my watch after clearing the ladder it read 31 minutes and change, however, I did not know where the timing mat was, so my official time was slightly slower.

Swim Time: 33:45 (1:44 per 100m)


Wetsuit strippers were set up just a few yards from the exit of the swim, which made it easier to run the quarter mile to transition.  I emptied the contents of my bag on the ground, and refilled it with my wetsuit, cap, and goggles, and donned my helmet and shoes.

During my setup, I was in a quandary about wearing socks on the bike as I had worn them most of the time during training, but that morning, I decided I really wanted dry socks for the run without exchanging socks in T-2.  Therefore, since I did have experience racing sockless, I slipped my feet into my shoes, grabbed my bike and rolled out of transition.

From exiting the water to the mount line felt like forever and it showed in my time.

T-1 Time: 6:28

The Bike

Usually, the plan for my 70.3 distance races included holding a steady power of 185-195 watts.  However, during the last two races, my run had suffered. This time I modified the plan to start at a steady 175 watts. I would then progressively increase my output to 185-190 watts, in the second half of the bike, depending on how I felt.

My nutrition was simply a quarter of a bottle of Infinit, every 15 minutes and a Chia Humma gel or half Bonk Breaker every 45 minutes. This would fortify my body with 900 calories by the end of the bike.  The swim would have been fueled by breakfast and a pre-workout Cliff Bar, so 450 calories would sustain me for the bike while another 450 would help to get my run started.

The first couple of miles of the course is around a residential area, so it was tough to keep my speed up, especially since I had some novice riders around me, but by the beginning of the third mile, it was on.

The first half of the bike was reasonably flat and fast.  I surprisingly found myself passing a lot of riders even at a low 175 watts.  Speed is not a data point visible on the display of my Garmin Edge 520 bike computer.  However, I do have a 5-mile auto-lap which briefly displays the lap time.

Ironman North Carolina 70.3

Looking like Judge Dredd on the bike

With the exception of the first five miles, the display consistently read under 15:00 minutes every lap.  Most of them were under 14 minutes.  Obviously, 20 mph equates to 3 minutes per mile. Therefore every lap that read under 15 minutes meant I was faster than my previous race.

It was tough to maintain my planned 175 watts knowing I had more in the tank and I could easily increase my speed.  Deviating from my plan never worked out well in the past, so I hunkered down and stayed the course.

Mile 30 came and went in a flash.  I did increase my wattage a little on a couple of short hills, but other than that I was pretty consistent.  That was until I ended up trapped in a peloton.

It was maddening.  I would slow down to allow the mandatory 6 bike lengths, and it felt like the whole group would slow.  Surging forward I would create a good distance between myself and the rest of the athletes, hold my watts, but they would envelop me again.

The question became how could I get out of this mess without, one, increasing my wattage to a point it would detriment my run, or, two, getting a penalty for blocking or drafting?

At mile 45, I was so angry that, involuntarily, the words, “Screw this” came out of my mouth.  I surged forward to a point where that group was no longer even visible behind me.  That empowerment gave me so much confidence I maintained 190 watts to the mile 57 dismount line. Yes. The course was a mile long which was congruent with a lot of other athletes.

Bike Time: 2:37:18 (21.9 mph average)


After dismounting, I ran with my bike to the rubber carpet to enter the transition area as fast as possible.  However, the one-lane chute was crowded. The polite athletes, like myself, shouted “on your left” sacrificing our feet on the jutting rocks.  There is some recollection of other expressions in “MA” category, filtering through the air from others that were just as frustrated.

Entering under the arch into transition I could see my bag hanging from the rack.  Using a regular shoestring knot made it easy to drop the bag and spill the contents. I sat on the ground, rolled on my socks, put on my shoes, grabbed my sunglasses, hat, and race belt and ran the other 200 meters to the run-out arch.

T-2 Time: 4:16

The Run

The last couple of 70.3 races entailed some pretty slow and miserable runs.  That is if you can call them runs.  They should have been more characterized as fast walks with a couple of miles of slow jogs thrown in. Ironman North Carolina 70.3 was going to be different and I didn’t care how much it hurt.  I was going to run consistently the full half-marathon, but I would run it smart.

The plan was to start a little slower for the first 3 miles. I would then either negative split or just remain consistent for the remainder.  Brief recovery was included in the plan by briskly walking only through the aid stations.

Ironman North Carolina 70.3

My signature run pic

Since my plan started somewhat slow I prepared for the onslaught of athletes passing me at first.  I learned a lesson early in my triathlon experience. Starting with a faster pace was a sure fire way for the run to be a sufferfest.

The first mile felt slow but easy.  There were no issues breathing and besides a tightness in my quads, which was normal, I felt really good.  A sure fire sign that I should have a good run.

At mile 2, our Super Sherpa, Chris, snapped some pics of me as he pedaled around on his mountain bike.  I asked about the others and he assured me that everyone looked great.  That news put a little spring in my step.

The Ironman North Carolina 70.3 run course is out-and-back course.  I could see the runners on my left running in the opposite direction.  Obviously, during the first half, I would see them running to the finish line. Then running toward the turn-a-round during the second.

Prior to mile 5, familiar colors and prance came into view.  Nick Zivolich, screamed opposite me, in his Best Damn Race tri kit.  We high fived yelling some motivation to each other.  I was not surprised he was ahead of me, but somewhat frustrated realizing he started 15 minutes behind me.  Not to mention he was almost an hour ahead of me.  I cleared that out of my head quick.  This was my race and I was going to complete my plan to the finish.

Around mile 6, Maria sped by, followed by Stephanie a mile later.  They both started 20 minutes ahead of me so I didn’t mind that at all.  To pass the time, I figured out how far ahead they were and what it would take to catch them.  I did end up figuring it out and if I were Meb Keflezighi or Patrick Lange it would be possible, but unfortunately not me.  Well, not yet.

My watch consistently ticked off 9:20-minute miles which were expected since the plan included walking through the aid stations.  It did mean my actual running pace was under a 9-minute mile.  Coming off a strong bike that excited me.

Miles 6 and 7 included a run through a small park prior to the turnaround.  A single track, paved trail started a small section where the turnaround and timing mat was located.  Entering this section is where I crossed with Jamie.  She looked like she may be struggling a little, but strong enough to finish without too many complications.

The idea of catching her ran through my head.  I would start testing a faster pace to determine if that would be possible.

As I was exiting the single track, Michael, one of my Tribal teammates, entered.  Now Michael is fast.  A 7 minute-mile runner for sure.  Now I had two challenges, catch Jamie and keep Michael from passing me.  If anything, the last 6 miles would be fun.

Mile 8 came and went.  Passing mile 11, the familiar Tribal cap with an audible, pat-on-the-back whizzed by.  It was Michael.  Truth-be-told, at the time I was feeling pretty proud holding him off that long.

Mile 12 included a somewhat steep ascent back into downtown Wilmington.  Glancing at my watch and saw my run time was 1:54.  My hopes were for a sub-two hour run.  Unfortunately, it just wasn’t in the cards this day, but I would come close.

My traditional burst of speed came entering the Ironman North Carolina 70.3 finish chute.  I leaped for a Moxie Dunk at the finish line as exhaustion washed over me.  The knowledge that the time clock indicated a PR felt positively overwhelming.   I accomplished what I came to do.  I followed my plan and succeeded.

Ironman North Carolina 70.3


Run Time: 2:04:29 

Total Time: 5:26:16 (PR)


The 2017 Ironman North Carolina 70.3 event distances did not have to be modified. That being said, I could officially consider this my PR by over 10 minutes.  Earlier in the year, I completed Ironman Chattanooga 70.3 in 5:25,  However, the swim was cut short by 800 meters, so I refused to count it.

The finish area displayed jubilantly tired athletes, vendors, and food tents.  With a smile and skip in my step I found Tribal teammates, Joey, Michael, and Brian K.  Everyone seemed as excited about their performances as I did.  Joey and Nick both received 3rd place in their age group. Nick’s triumph grabbed him a spot to the 2018 World Championships in South Africa.  Michael, Brian K. Stephanie and I all PR’d, so it was a great day for all of us.

Ironman North Carolina 70.3

Nick and Joey show off their 3rd place plaques

I am so proud of my friends, and teammates for what they accomplished.  It is such an honor to be among them.

Both my bike and morning bag were waiting for me at the bag check area and the volunteers were extremely efficient to procure them for me.  A quick walk later I retrieved my bike and bag from T-2 and rode back to the house.

The rest of my time consisted of Irish Car Bombs, a Phở lunch and a visiting some breweries around Wilmington.

Wilmington is a beautiful area.  I hope to return to race Ironman North Carolina 70.3 again in 2018.  I will have to include a couple of extra days to hang out.

Did I mention that hit shows, “Dawson’s Creek” and “One Tree Hill” and some major motion pictures were filmed in Wilmington?

What was your best race or event of the year?

Ironman Chattanooga 70.3 Triathlon Part Deux

Ironman Chattanooga 70.3 Triathlon Part Deux

Ironman Chattanooga 70.3


I had every intention of getting some vindication on the Ironman Chattanooga 70.3 course this year.  I made a plan, trained for it, and stayed healthy, but unfortunately it did not come to fruition as I expected.

Last year I toed the line injured at Ironman Chattanooga 70.3, and struggled with all three of the events.  The swim was not as fast as I expected.  They controlled the water flow so the current was minimal.  The bike was rolling hills of which I trained for and was much stronger on the bike, but I made the mistake of pushing the pace which completely screwed up my run.  The roller coaster terrain of the run ended up beating me as I walked a huge portion of it. Last year I ended up with a 5:43:30.

This Ironman Chattanooga 70.3 was going to be different.  First, I was going to work with my coach on my weaknesses .  Second, I completed a higher quantity of brick workouts including not only bike to run, but also swim to bike and swim to run.  Finally, I maintained my recovery routine, which was a mistake I dealt with last year.  My overall nutrition was better and I was in the gym a lot more.  I really felt confident in my abilities to conquer the whole course and receive my vindication.

Before the Race

The trip up to Ironman Chattanooga was pretty uneventful.  Josh Wilkins and I drove up together which was a reoccurring theme from last year.  The only exception was we followed Rick and Laura Jansik the whole way.  Rick set us up with a room at the Marriott Residence Inn which was two blocks from the expo and transition.  This was a nice change from last year where Josh and I stayed a few miles out of town where we had to worry about parking and timelines.  This location gave us increased access to transition, the expo and swim start.  We parked the car in the hotel parking area and didn’t touch it again until it was time to leave.

The Ironman Chattanooga 70.3 expo was no different than any other Ironman expo.  Vendors from nutrition, equipment and apparel companies littered the lot with their goods and a couple of small food trucks supplied some fast treats to fuel up the participants.

On a surprising note, when I went to check-in I found out I was an Ironman All World Athlete.  The All World Athlete program houses the top 10% of the age group athletes.  It is separated into three tiers; the top 1% are considered gold, the top 5% are silver and the top 10% are bronze.  Obviously, I am in the bottom of the tiers.  I guess my age is starting to give me a little bit of an advantage.

What was the difference at registration?  The AWA athletes have their own entrants into registration which usually allows for a faster experience, and I was given the option of wearing an AWA swim cap versus the AG swim cap.  For a free program, I’ll take it.

The weather report loomed over us the entire week prior and, all the way up to the morning of the race.  Satellite images and forecasts expressed a large mass of thunderstorms moving at just the right velocity to hit Chattanooga at the start time.  The stir of conversation about the weather was popular among all the athletes competing.

Some were worried about the swim being cancelled.  Others were concerned about navigating the terrain of the bike course safely.  The only agreed upon positive comments were about the run.  No one cared if they had to run in the rain.  It just meant it would be cooler.  Either way the conversations around the weather were consistent with all of the competitors we chatted with.

Ironman Chattanooga 70.3

I was invited to two Ironman Chattanooga 70.3 pre-race dinners; one with Moxie, my national team, and one with Tribal, my training team.  While my plans were to start at the Tribal dinner just to say wish everyone luck and then head over to Moxie, they derailed once I realized how far apart they were.  The Tribal dinner at Food Works was delicious but it was the calm of athletes around the table which is what I really needed at the moment.  These were the people I train with all year long which at first is why I wanted to attend the Moxie dinner because I do not see those teammates, but at that time in which my mind was preparing for the race at hand, my heart wanted to be with these friends and training buddies.

That night my light sleeping pattern made me aware of the lightning, thunder and rain enveloping the area that night.  My dreams were plagued with worry of the bike course and entailed specific turns of the course where I may be in danger.  I am never really worried about my own bike handling, it is the others cyclists I worry about, and my subconscious coupled with the storms brought those fears to the surface.

Sometime during the night, my fears quelled, and I was lulled into a peaceful sleep.  I awoke refreshed, excited and surprised.  The weather conditions had completely changed.  The storms had dissipated and the forecast only called for some possible scattered thunderstorms later in the afternoon.  Ironman Chattanooga 70.3 was on with no deviations.

Race Day

There was a small change to the procedure this year.  Last year we lined up for the swim start on a first-come-first-serve.  The advantage being on the Moxie team was that a team sherpa went to the start at 4:15 am and setup camp so the team could just filter in when they arrived.  This year the athletes still lined up but it was by projected swim time.  My threshold swim pace is just below 2:00 per hundred which would be approximately 30-35 minutes, so I lined up in the 30+ minute swim line.

There I found Oscar Alvarez and a few other Moxie teammates.  We nervously chatted while preparing for the event at hand.

My recent purchase of a ROKA Maverick Elite full wetsuit increased my excitement for the swim.  ROKA’s introduction of their “Arms-up” technology  resonated with me, due to my experience in Maryland.  There I could feel the limitation in my shoulder mobility in the orginal Xterra Vortex wetsuit I had purchased 5 years prior.  During my test swims and at Escape from Ft Desoto I was impressed with the flexibility in the arms which left no limitation to my stroke.  This swim would further validate that.

After an amazing rendition of our National Anthem, the gun went off for the professional athlete starts.  Something was a little off though.  The course starts with 300 meters upstream then turns for the remainder of the course down stream.  The professional athletes were charting times of almost 5 minutes to get to the first buoy.

As it turned out, the water flow was not controlled as much as it was supposed to be, so the current was a lot faster than expected.  Due to the extraordinary amount of time it took to go upstream, the officials decided that the age group race would not include the upstream portion and the swim would be shortened.

It was so ironic that all of us athletes were worried about the swim being cut-short or cancelled because of the storms, and here it was being cut short because of the current.

After a twenty minute delay in order for the buoys to be moved and announcements to be made, the line finally started moving.  My heart was jumping as it always does prior to a race.  I really wanted to do well this time.  My plan was to swim strong, but not overdo it, keep the power to 190-200 watts on the bike and run a 9 minute or less mile on the run.  I went over and over this in my head prior to jumping off the dock into the 74 degree water.

The Swim

Ironman Chattanooga 70.3The Ironman Chattanooga 70.3 swim was no less than glorious.  The early part of my plan was being executed as I easily rolled, reached and pulled my way toward the swim finish.  My weakness in open water has always been sighting, so every few hundred meters even with sighting correctly, I usually end up changing to a breast stroke to get my bearings.  This time, I was able to get through to the finish without changing at all.  I did modify my stroke to a Tarzan stroke a few times to validate my sighting, but that was it.

I reached for the volunteer helping us out of the water, stepped onto dry land and glanced at my watch.  It was excitedly surprising to see my time 21 minutes.  I knew the course was shortened and we were moving with the current, but it was still over 1400 meters.  Not to mention, I felt amazing.

Sprinting into transition with my wet suit in hand my thoughts went back to my plan.  If I just stayed between 190 and 200 watts I would have plenty for the run.  I rolled my socks on, stepped into my shoes simultaneously sliding my helmet onto my head and buckling it then slid my bike from the rack and ran out of transition.  It still felt a little slower than I would like, but I was excited to be on my bike.

The Bike

Not to far after the 10 mile marker I was playing cat and mouse with a group of riders, when I saw a familiar kit standing at the side of the road with her bike down.  It took me a minute to process that it was Yelena Maloney, a training partner from Tribal.  I immediately turned around to see if she was ok.  It was instinct.  I didn’t even think I just found my body making the decision and executing.

When I arrived to her location I asked her if she was ok.  She stated, “I am fine.  I have been here for 5 minutes already so my race is over.  Just go.”  I replied, “Just as long as you are ok” as I turned around to continue my race.  The SAG vehicle arrived as I left, so I no longer felt the worried for my friend and I was able to concentrate back on the race at hand.

Within the next 15 minutes I found myself right back with the familiar kits and bikes I was around Ironman Chattanooga 70.3prior to stopping.  I still felt great, and at that moment, I was executing the plan as precise as possible.

Some of the steeper and longer inclines did not allow me to keep my power range even in my highest gear, but they were so few and far between I didn’t think it would cause a major issue at the time.


Around mile 40 I rode right into my first major obstacle.  I was behind an athlete in a University of Florida kit when I decided I was going to pass him. USAT rules state that you have twenty seconds to pass and if the attempt fails you must slow to the six bike lengths behind the rider before attempting it again.

I started to accelerate slightly in order to pass, but he accelerated right along with me.  Not wanting to push my watts to much, after what I thought was 20 seconds I dropped back.  Immediately, I realized I was slowing way down and was not getting any space between his back tire and my front.  “Screw this” I thought, and started to accelerate to pass him with a little more force.  Wouldn’t you know it, he accelerated right with me…again.

Of course, I slowed down again to get acquire the regulated distance as my ears detected the sound of a motorcycle.  One of the officials was headed in our direction.  I motioned and yelled to the official that I was slowing down, but of course, so was my “friend” ahead of me.  So, it looked as though I was drafting.

As the official was writing in his notebook, I tried to tell him that I was slowing down and that he was slowing down too, but it wouldn’t be accepted by the official.  He yelled to me to stop at the next penalty box and tell them I had a blue card.

Due to the penalty I subconsciously equated the extra time, and immediately accelerated which would forgo my plan for the next 15 miles.  I don’t exactly recall, but I believe my thinking was that I would get a 5 minute recovery in the box, so why not step up and try to make it up.  Since the box I was going to end up in was located just prior to the dismount line, I wouldn’t have to power through any more before transitioning to the run.

After arriving at the last Ironman Chattanooga 70.3 penalty box and releasing the negativity of the official, the volunteer stated that they were on a roll today and that a group of over 15 riders had just finished their 5 minute penalty.  Just about as my time was at completion I glanced over at the runners starting their 13.1 mile leg and noticed Yelena speeding through the first hundred yards.

As I yelled to her, I was surprised.  That meant that she got her bike fixed and must have passed me into transition while I was stopped int he penalty box.  I wondered what she had to have had to make up in order to get there that fast.   I later learned she was four minutes behind me after the SAG staff was able to release her chain from being stuck behind the crank and get her back into the race.

T-2 went smoothly and was only slightly delayed by my 47-year-old bladder that needed to be emptied.

The Run

Ironman Chattanooga 70.3I was off and feeling pretty good even after the first long hill, but when I reached the first aid station I could already feel things start to slow down a bit.  I was running under 9 minute miles, but I knew I couldn’t sustain it.

My mind already went into fix-it mode wondering what I needed in order to get send whatever I needed to my legs in order to maintain my cadence.  After the mile 3 aid station a side-stitch reeked havoc on my insides and I slowed to a walk, but I was determined to keep the walking to a minimum.  This was going to be a long half marathon.

I continued to walk every mile or 1.5 miles for a minute or so, before picking up the pace again.  I grabbed everything I could think of in order to fuel my glycogen stores and sometimes it worked.  Coke and Red Bull both would give me an instant lift, but it would only sustain me for a short duration before my legs would tire, the stitches would return and I was forced to slow down again.

Coming across the Chestnut street bridge to complete the first loop I caught up with my workout wife, Sonja Olsen.  She was obviously upset.  She mentioned she had an amazing swim and did really well on the bike, but was now frustrated because her run was less that she’d hoped. “Join the club”, I thought to myself.

The interesting thing she said, was that she didn’t want to let anyone down.  I immediately went into a diatribe of how triathlon is an individual sport and the only one she would let down is herself.  If she was doing the absolutely best she could, and that she honestly couldn’t push any more, that she was letting no one down.

Those words penetrated my own mind as I told her to keep her chin up and sped up to complete myIronman Chattanooga 70.3 own race.  The rest of the race, when ever I felt like I had to walk, I would ask myself honestly if I needed to or could I continue.  More times than not I didn’t have to and I would keep running.

I reached the Chestnut Street Bridge for the final time and I picked up the pace.  Everything hurt.  My legs were like lead weights, I had stitches on both sides and I was a little light headed, but I was way to close to stop running.

Jumping and touching the arch with some sort of flair has become a popular way to finish at Ironman race for the Moxie team.  As matter of fact, one of the members prints up calendars for the following year with all the dunk pictures.

While running up the red Ironman carpet toward the finish, the energy to try and make a Moxie dunk alluded me.  However, I did try and while at the time it seemed kinda wimpy, the picture made it seem not so much.

Ironman Chattanooga 70.3


Ironman Chattanooga 70.3I crossed the Ironman Chattanooga 70.3 finsh line with a time of 5:25:55 which is a PR altogether by over 10 minutes.  Unfortunately, the swim was over 500 meters short. Using the average pace and adding it back it would give me a 5:36-5:38. Subtracting the penalty of 5 minutes the actual race time would be 5:31 which would be a PR by 4 minutes.   This of course is not reality.  I cannot go back and swim those meters or erase my penalty, so while Ironman will consider it a PR I will not.

The rest of the day consisted of rest, beer, burgers, ice cream, good company and fun.  It was still a tough race and while I did not get my vindication, I still progressed.  I am proud of my race, but that was then, and now it’s time to focus on Ironman Costa Rica 70.3.


Ironman Chattanooga 70.3

Lessons Learned

I have spent an abundance amount of time analyzing what I can do to help me hit my goals for the next races and here is what I came up with:

  1. The Coke and Red Bull on the course were causing a surge in my pace and it made me feel better.  It can only mean that I am not getting enough nutrition on the bike.  I will go back and reassess what I need and make sure that it doesn’t happen again.
  2. My coach made me realize my swim volume has been down, which is not surprising( If I had to skip a workout, it would mostly be a swim and I would move the other workouts around to accommodate.) I need to get my volume up in order to swim my way to a better bike split.  In other words, gain the fitness and technique to increase my efficiency and economy in the water.
  3. The stop for my teammate and the penalty made me increase my wattage on the bike which most likely drained me a little for the run.  No matter what happens keep to the plan.  Triathlon is not won on the bike, but it can be lost.

If I put these lessons into place, it should at lease help me succeed in my goals to continue to be healthy and decrease my time on the course.  With the exception of number 2 I should be able to incorporate the other lessons for Costa Rica.

Carpe Vitam!
(Sieze Life)

Chicago Marathon 2016: Goof Race Recap

Chicago Marathon 2016: Goof Race Recap

Leading up to the Chicago Marathon 2016

The Chicago Marathon provides an excellent course, plenty of support and, for me, a chance to visit home for a few days.  It was no different for me this time, with one small factor.  I was not nearly as trained for it as I should have been.

In my previous recap for Ironman Augusta 70.3, I detailed a very painful half-marathon run.  It left me deeply concerned running the Chicago Marathon.  The focus for the following two weeks was on recovery.  My runs were limited to the Zero-to-5k course I coach at Tampa General Hospital which came to a total of eight miles.

Meanwhile, I completed a thirty-minute session with the foam roller and dynamic stretching, coupled with at least one twenty-minute session with an Electronic Muscle Stimulation machine from Therapeutix.  I followed this routine almost every day.

Even with the focus on recovery, I still had issues with my calves and Achilles tendons in both legs. My concern for finishing the Chicago Marathon did not change as I stepped off the plane on Friday, October 7th.


I visited with my parents in Bartlett, a suburb located about 20 miles west of downtown Chicago, on Friday.  Saturday, I utilized the local train system, Metra, for transportation into the loop where I checked into the Kimpton Allegro Hotel and made my way to meet up with friends before heading to the expo.

Pete, Kari, Maria, Danny and I had a bountiful breakfast at a local diner and proceeded to grab a couple of cabs to the McCormick Place Convention Center for the expo.

I am always amazed at the smooth flow that is set up for the Chicago Marathon.  I stepped up to a table where they scanned the QR code that was emailed to me.  All of my information promptly displayed on a monitor.  After verifying the info was correct, a booth number appeared and a volunteer directed me to that specific location.

Even though the area was mobbed by runners, loved ones, volunteers and staff, I was able to quickly make my way to the booth where the volunteer already had my packet waiting for me.  She verified my identity with my driver’s license and directed me to the main hall where I fought the crowd to the back. Within a couple of minutes, my gear bag and t-shirt were in my hands.

The Expo

Chicago Marathon

Bart Yasso with Coach Brad

With the requirement for check-in complete, I was free to wander around the expo.  The Chicago Marathon expo is always a highlight for me.  It is by far one of the biggest expos I attend with a plethora of vendors and products.

The nagging calf and Achilles tendon still had me worried. I risked breaking one of the number one rules for big races.  Never anything new on race day.

Hoka One One claims performance and high cushion without sacrificing proprioception.  As one of the first on the east coast to review Hoka One One a few years ago, I felt their technology may aid my finish the following day.

Other reviews led me to the Clayton.  The middle line of their cushioning but extremely light.  Slipping my foot into the shoe, and immediately the feeling the wider toe box and soft EVA foam positively indicated this approach was the right decision.

I palled around with my friends for a while, before I noticed the time. It was 1:00 PM, which meant the Ironman World Championships had already started.  I excused myself and headed to the hotel. I spent the rest of the afternoon, with my EMS machine and tablet watching the race in Kona.

Chicago Marathon

Later, I met up with Pete and the gang at Ryo Sushi.  Dinner was a great combination of carbs, good fats, protein and extra sodium hidden in a spicy tuna roll and beef udon.  After the hugs for luck and “good nights” it was a quick walk back to the hotel, a gear check followed by some light reading before entering dreamland.

Race Morning

The next morning, I awoke refreshed and ready to face the day.  Anxiety plagued my core as it usually does prior to a big race. However, this time it was heightened slightly with worry due to my lack of volume, and the tightness in my lower legs.

My consumption of oatmeal and a power bar settled the hunger pains, as I dressed in my T2PKD singlet, shorts, socks, new Hoka One One Claytons and my Moxie Multisport hat.  The temperature, estimated at 54 degrees, encouraged my purchase of a very inexpensive hoody and sweatpants which would keep me warm prior to the race.

All of the major marathons collect discarded clothes after the race and donate them to the homeless.  After I shedded mine, these clothes would have a good home.

With that, I headed to the lobby, where after grabbing a cup of coffee and a banana, I took the 20-minute walk to Grant Park and the “E” Corral.

Right around 7 am I entered my official Chicago Marathon corral.  After 30 minutes of chatting up some runners from the Ronald McDonald House Team, and an operatic version of our national anthem, the gun went off.  It took 14 minutes to reach the start line, and we all began our 26.2 mile journey.

The Strategy

With all my concerns, I did not start the race without a strategy.  Even though I kept hearing Coach Jon in my head telling me, that there was nothing to worry about, and that I had enough experience in my legs to finish the marathon, I still didn’t want to go in strictly by feel.

Using past data, temperature, results and a bit of feel, I put together a simple strategy of allowing my legs to do what they wanted in combination with brisk walking through the aid stations.  I told myself that no matter what I would walk every water stop from the first flag to the last flag and then run again.  Therefore, looking at the pace on my watch would not be positive.  I would check very infrequently the total time, but otherwise, I would use the clocks on the mile markers to figure out my timing.

This Chicago Marathon strategy also included a return to my “Happy Place”.  The past few months had been a draining journey of mixed paces, disappointments and workout failures that deprived me of everything I loved about running.  I needed a win, but more so I needed that peaceful euphoria that kept luring me back to this sport I loved.  That feeling of freedom that I continually coach in my students and clients.

In The Beginning

The first mile was a little faster than I intended, so I slowed down a bit for fear of hitting the wall way too early.  Passing my mile 3 I realized that even with walking twice I was running slightly faster than a 9-minute mile.  This revelation amazed me.  I truly anticipated more of a ten to an eleven-minute mile, being as I did not have the training volume. To be running so easily at this speed, was a confidence booster, to say the least.

Everything seemed to be rolling along just fine.  For the majority of the race, I was listening to a custom station on Slacker radio, calculating times, chatting with runners and just enjoying the familiar sights.

My times consistently were 9-minute miles, so I decided to modify my strategy to include just that.  The test would be what would my half marathon time be.  The voice inside me kept insisting I had at least a half marathon in me.  However, the test would be afterward.  In the meantime, I needed validation that I could sustain this strategy for at least half the race.


At the 13-mile mark, my the clock read 2:08. Of course, I started 14 minutes behind the first wave, which

Chicago Marathon

meant that my time was actually 1:56.  I did it.  Sub two-hour half marathon and I still felt strong.

Assessing my body after that, I only noticed some slight tightening of my hip-flexors.  Everything else felt great.

As I passed mile 16, I was still amazed at how I felt.  I still stuck to the strategy and had not walked except for where planned.

My quads and calves started to tighten up a little more at the 18th-mile aid station.  I felt it more passing the last flag of the aid stations when I re-started running.  To be honest, I expected it earlier than that.


The real pain hit at mile 21.  My quads screamed, my hamstrings ached and my calves were on fire.  I kept fueling with what was on the course, which luckily included some bananas.  The potassium seemed to relieve a little of the pain but not the tightness.

With 4 miles left to go, my inner dialogue argued with me from aid station to aid station. It expressed I needed to walk for a bit, however, the idea that I could run a sub-4, intrigued me, so I continued on.

At the 35k marker, I noticed my slow down to over a 9-minute mile.  I would have to go sub 8:30 to finish under four hours.  The uncomfortable tightness and pain in my lower extremities expressed that it was not realistic.  However, that argument did not include seeing how close I could come.

The 24-mile marker did include an extra 100 yards of walking before the need to complete this challenge took over.  My inner thoughts reminded me of the final miles of my completed Ironmans.  Everything hurt, but the desire to cross the finish line, triumphant, began overwriting the pain signals to my brain.

The Finish

Chicago MarathonI picked up the pace a bit at mile 25.  The pain was intensifying.  Luckily, so was the perseverance, and the reminders of all the times encouraging clients, to run through the pain.  That it isn’t about knocking down the obstacles of life.  It was about how many obstacles life could throw but to still keep moving forward.  The pain was just another obstacle.

I turned the corner and my legs turned over a little faster identifying the sign practically yelling at runners, “400M(meters)” to go.  All I could think is one, more time around the track and it’s over.

The 300m sign also brought the finish line into my view.  At that point, all the pain just went away.  It was over.  I crossed the finish line with my arms up in the air.  I did it and just slightly over four hours.  Final time: 4:04:17

Limping through the chaos of the Chicago Marathon finish, I realized that even including the worry and pain, this experience was amazing.  While the people, runners, and logistics were all wonderful, it was my internal struggle that made it great.


Chicago Marathon

What breakthrough story do you have either in training or racing?
(Please feel free to share in comments)

Carpe Vitam! (Seize Life)

Ironman Augusta 70.3 2016 Race Recap

Ironman Augusta 70.3 2016 Race Recap

September 25 was going to be my day.  The Ironman  Augusta 70.3 triathlon was finally here.  The race I had been training so hard for on one of my favorite courses.  It was four-and-a-half months since Ironman Chattanooga 70.3 and I was going to be ready to get my vindication and PR like I never had before.  This was going to be my glory day. I knew it.



Driving up from Tampa, was a piece of cake.  I had the presence of some beautiful and talented athletes;  Maria Lopez Vijayanagar, Nancy Hepner, and our own personal driver, Jamie Breibart.  Between awesome conversations, laughing and completing some work, the time flew by. Before we knew it, we were pulling up to the Marriott Hotel which housed the Augusta Convention center.

This was the first time ever, I stayed in the Ironman Augusta 70.3 host hotel.  Actually, it was the first time I ever stayed in a race’s host hotel and I was excited.

The pounding of my pulse intensified with every step we took towards the expo.  Check-in was a breeze especially on Friday afternoon since most of the athletes would probably wait until Saturday.  The next thing I knew, I had my cool new swim bag containing my packet, t-shirt, and swag. A few moments later, I was standing in line to buy the traditional extras.  Some athletes always get that year’s t-shirt, some pick something different every time, I get a coffee mug and water bottle with the race logo.

The vendors that provided booths were of the same variety as usual.  Cliff bars, a local gear shop, BASE salts, a new pet food sponsor, and of course my friend Scott Rigsby with his foundation.

I have mentioned Scott in a few other posts.  He was the first double amputee to finish the Kona World Championship Ironman.  He went on to form a foundation to help soldiers with disabilities; The Scott Rigsby Foundation.

With that completed, we headed down to Mellow Mushroom for some much-deserved carbs to include one of our favorite carbohydrates.  BEER.  Craft Beer because I am a snob like that.  If you ever get to try their Mega-Veggie pizza, go for it.  It is magnificent, especially if the tofu is traded out for avocado.

After a long conversation at the bar that included my last drink before the race, it was time to get a good night sleep.

That, unfortunately, didn’t happen.  Two nights prior I always prescribe a good nights sleep and only awake when the body is ready.  This allows for maximal recovery for race day with ample healing of any inflammation.

I have no idea why. but sleep evaded me most of the night.  I still felt rested upon getting out of bed around 7 am, but not as much as I would have liked.


It was a toss-up of whether to go and jump in the river with our wetsuits or not.  Nancy had never swum in open water with a wetsuit and was nervous about the swim.  I was also anxious to jump in to get a feel for the temperature and if my wetsuit was still functioning properly, so we headed down to the swim start.

We suited up and jumped in.  The temperature was a little chilly at first, but within ten strokes it felt glorious.  The current was running about 2 knots, so my strokes to the first buoy felt like slicing through butter.

Jaime and I waited at the first buoy while Nancy caught up to us.  Her boyfriend Hans had arrived the night before and being a marathon swimmer, he was incredibly comfortable in the water.  He talked her through jumping in and they met us at the buoy.

We splashed around and played like kids for a few minutes before we decided to head back.  Now that was work.  It was like swimming on a treadmill.  We ended up swimming to the side and shimming up the dock instead.  Funny thing was there was no way to use your legs to get on the floating dock.  I muscled myself up and then brought up Jamie, Hans and finally Nancy.  That was an experience.

To make matters worse there was a locked gate in front of us with nothing on either side except water.  We had to carefully hang on the outer chain link fence to get around the locked gate door.  It was like a pre-70.3 obstacle course.

With Nancy now comforted with the buoyancy of her wetsuit, and a real confidence booster for myself, we headed back to the hotel to get a quick ride in.

Maria and I headed out and on Broad St for about a mile when I heard Oscar Alvarez, a teammate from our national team Moxie Multisport, yell from the Holiday Inn.  I have never had the chance to ride or even get to know Oscar so I was excited when he flagged us down.  Donna Adams also joined us, from Moxie, as we headed out of town for about 15 minutes.  We turned around and headed back.

I toggled through all my gears to include my small chainring knowing that there were some new hills added to the course.  Everything seemed to work very smoothly, which just increased the intensity my excitement.

After dropping off Oscar and Donna at their hotels, Maria and I pedaled back to pick up Nancy and Jamie.  I completed attaching the stickers on my bike and changed into regular shoes for the jog back.  I, unintentionally, put my debit card and license in a bento box on my bike, and we headed out.

Again, things went very smoothly.  We rode right in, racked our bikes and headed out.  I had a pretty good position sitting almost the very middle of the transition area, just a few positions to the left of the aisle.

It didn’t seem like anyone wanted to jog back, and I was ok with that.  However, about half-a-mile out, I remembered that I had my credit card and license on my bike.  I gave my helmet to the ladies while telling them I would catch up and I started running back to transition.

This is the first season in seven-and-a-half years I have had any type of injuries.  Earlier in the year, I was suffering from a stress reaction in one of my right metatarsals and lately, I had been suffering from some Achilles tendinitis.  It was so wonderful to run and not feel any of that pain.

Running into transition I caught the site of April from my local team, Outspokin Multisport.  I stopped and chatted for a quick second before continuing on to rescue my stuff.  Confidently, I ran back out feeling really strong.  I was lucky to run into two more Moxie teammates, Josh Otstot and Alex Bautista before finally catching up to Maria and Jaime.

The confidence was brimming with me throughout dinner at a local sushi and hibachi restaurant.  I had rice, chicken and little sushi to fulfill my balance of carbs, protein, and good fats.

Fueled and completely prepped for the race, I fell asleep and remained in restful slumber until the alarms went off at 4:00 am.


Ironman rotates the start waves of their races, in order be fair to all of the Age Groups.  In other words, while one year the 45-49 age group might be in an earlier wave, the following year that same group would be scheduled later.  This year my age group was starting later at 8:28 am.

Since we didn’t need to travel to transition to setup race-ready, we dressed comfortably and headed out to the buses to be transported to the transition site.

Over the years, my experience in setting up my transition has been drastically reduced. I now can do a full setup and walk-through in just a few minutes where before it would take a lot longer.  As I started placing bottles in the cages I noticed my rear tire was completely flat.

While a lot of athletes would consider this bad luck, I was grateful that I found it now rather than on the course.  Not to mention, there was a maintenance crew here that would be far faster at repairing it than I would.

As it turned out, I was correct in that assumption.  I handed the mechanic a tube, and they pulled my back wheel, changed the tube to include adding an extender, returned the wheel to my bike all within just a few minutes.  With that, I was set up and ready to rock n’ roll.

Announcements flooded the air during our setup time in transition, of which most were normal except for the one big kicker.

“We are making history today.  For the first time in Ironman Augusta history the swim will be not wet suit legal for age group awards.”

This was a little bit of a surprise.  This was one of the reasons I loved this race.  I am not the fastest swimmer but allow me a downstream swim in a wetsuit and I can hold my own.  Unfortunately, now I just lost one of my advantages.

All the way back to the hotel, I took part in a lot of self-talk.  Telling myself, that I had done the distance in the pool hundreds of times, and as the river was fresh water that is all this was.  I also still had the advantage of the current which was moving between 1.5 and 2 knots.  Not to mention, my transition time should be faster.

This calmed me down, as we headed back up to the room to prepare for our start times.

My breakfast of oatmeal, a banana, a cliff bar, and coffee went down easily as my anxiety slowly started to grow.  I rolled out my legs, did some dynamic stretching, dressed, and headed over to Jaime’s room to pass the time before heading down to the swim start.

At 7:30 we walked down to the swim start as Nancy had an 8:04 start time, followed by me at 8:28, and Jaime at 8:40.  As this would be Maria’s last race in the Pro division, she was already on the course.

I was pushing all of my positive energy to the forefront of my mind for Nancy.  She was comfortable in the water during our test swim the previous day and while she could’ve still used her wetsuit, it would have meant starting at 9:30.  With the temp already at 77 degrees that would have been for an even hotter race.  I applauded her for deciding to go without and starting with her wave.

Before I knew it I gave hugs to Jaime, a number of other friends and teammates, and was in line with the rest of my age group.


At 8:24 the staff moved us to the dock where we would start.  Usually, there is a rope start-line ten or so meters from the dock.  This year they wanted us to start touching the dock.  Due to the number of triathletes in my group, there was not enough dock to allow everyone a water start, so I was forced to stand on the dock and jump in when the horn blew at 8:28.

As I jumped in, the cool water prickled my skin as I surfaced and started my stroke.  The anxiety completely wore off, and my heart rate decreased when I found my rhythm.  I kept my mind quiet, focusing on reaching as far as I could while driving my hip down pulling myself through the water like a ladder.

I have written and said before, I am not the fastest swimmer by far.  Actually, I am downright slow, but I have been working on it every season.  You can imagine my surprise when I reached and found a foot there.  I couldn’t believe it either, I caught someone.  There truly is a first time for everything.

As I was maneuvering around the swimmer and was surprised again by a kick to my hand.  Then I was boxed in a group and I thought, “This is great, I can just hang in here and take advantage of the draft.

Unfortunately, that didn’t last.  The athletes on either side of me started swimming into me, throwing off my rhythm and the athletes in front slowed down so I was now getting kicked in the head.

I pulled back into a breaststroke and swam out of the way.  It took a minute or so to get my breath and site line back so I could find my rhythm again.

Unfortunately, I experienced a similar scenario a little while later, with me resolving it in the same fashion.  I was feeling a little peeved, but on the other hand, I was fascinated that I was forced to pass some of my fellow age group athletes in my weakest event.

With a huge smile on my face, I pulled off my cap and goggles as I ran into transition.  I looked down at my watch and saw 34 minutes and change.  That was a PR for me, not by much, but gave me a huge energy boost crossing the mount line as I began the bike portion.


This season was all about the bike.  I have been focused on increased efficiency and speed on the bike during my training and my earlier results have proved that it had worked.

My ride felt like silk on the early portion of the bike.  The derailleur was moving through my gear changes like butter, my goal power was ranging perfectly between 180 and 190 watts and my speed was a consistent 22 mile per hour.  I felt like I was unstoppable.

The first set of hills uneventfully came and went without any kind of changes in effort level.  The excitement was radiating from me because everything seemed to be coming together.  I stuck to my nutrition plan and wattage like glue and just kept passing people.

Another set of inclines came around mile 38.  These were the grade of hills that bring your speed down to 9 miles an hour.  I kept a cool head knowing that what goes up, must come down and I would make up the speed on the decline.

At mile 42, I noticed my time.  Big Mistake.  All of the sudden I was concerned that I was under 21 miles an hour of which I was consistent for the ride prior.  Had I really slowed down that much?  My goal was 21 mph, and I was thinking it was conservative.  It would allow me to finish the bike in 2:39, but now that goal was in danger.

Around mile 45, I started to feel a little sluggish, so I took an extra gel and finished the formula in the current reservoir.  Unfortunately, it took awhile for my digestive system to process the extra calories, as the following five miles felt very slow.

The last five miles were either downhill or pretty flat.  I was consistently riding between 22 and 23 MPH, but it wasn’t enough.  I rolled into T-2 in 2:48.

Just prior to the dismount line, my thoughts went to the run.  I had decided I just needed to pick-up the pace 15-20 seconds for a few of the miles and I might just be able to make a lot of it up.  Even if I didn’t hit my goal of 5:17, I would still PR.

I was ready to hit the dismount line running into T-2, but when swung my leg over my seat a pain in my hip almost made me fall.  “What the hell?” were the words that came out of my mouth for everyone to hear.

I tried to run my bike into T-2, but they would not move.  My legs just refused to do anything other than walk.  My thoughts drifted to other races and my internal dialogue was encouraging reflecting my previous history of my legs waiting to transition at mile 3.


I changed my shoes, grabbed my race belt and hat and headed out, with a brief stop at the portlet.  I tried to jog a little, but a stabbing pain was radiating both hips, so I walked very briskly.  No problem, I strategized taking in a little more salt, some water and jogging to mile 3 where my legs would magically open up and I would finish around 2 hours.  The goal not reached but still a PR.

Unfortunately, it never happened.  Mile 3 came and went with me running slowly for a tenth to a quarter mile before having to walk.  The pain radiating through my legs while running, but disappearing while walking.

Ironman Augusta 70.3I went back to my training.  Asking myself what I thought was happening physiologically.  Tracing the muscles radiating from the hips, and assessing each individual pathway. I was at a complete loss.  I had no idea what was going on.

Over the next few miles, I did everything possible to go from aid station to aid station stuffing ice down my shorts trying to numb my hips.  Unfortunately, the temperature and humidity were increasing as well.  I didn’t feel like it was really that warm, but I noticed all the walkers.

The last four times I did this race, there were finishers that walked, but I didn’t recall the immense number of walkers I was noticing.  There were more athletes walking than running.  It didn’t make me feel any better, but there was definitely something going on.

The first time I completed Augusta I recall it being even hotter, but not nearly the amount of walkers I was noticing this year.

The rest of the run was more of the same.  a quarter to a half mile of running and then I walked until the pain subsided.  I was constantly making deals with myself to run just a little longer each time.

After 2 hours, mile 10 was the marker I was finally able to surpass feeling completely defeated, angry, in pain and embarrassed.  I was doubting everything I ever learned, my ability as an athlete and as a coach.  If I couldn’t get through a 70.3 in less than 6 hours what right did I have to coach other people?

When I finally turned the corner towards the finish line, Maria, Jaime, and Hans all had their cameras or phones out.  I was trying to signal to them not to take a pic because I felt so ashamed.

Crossing the finish line was completely anti-climactic as my watch blinked 6:16.  The slowest time since my first 70.3.  I didn’t care about it and I almost passed up the people handing out the medals.  At the time I am writing this I still have not hung the medal on my wall with the others.


I grabbed a coke from the food tent and proceeded to find Jaime, Maria, and Hans.  We watched Nancy run by just prior to the halfway point, cheering her on and encouraging her to keep moving forward.

After that, I followed Maria back to the hotel and we chatted.  She expressed her disappointment with her race, especially the run.  I tried to be upbeat, but my thoughts were very negative.  I really don’t like being that way.  It makes me feel weak.

I left the celebration early that night and went back to the room. I packed and escaped into the mindless abyss of television just wanting the day to be over.

Over the next days, I reviewed the race, trying to resolve my issues on the run.  I realized there is one crucial element of my training that I neglected this season.  Massage.

In the past, my regimen included regular visits to my License Massage Therapist.  That habit has been occurring for every season of training for five years prior.  I completely neglected this avenue of my training this season.  Was this the answer?  I have no idea, but I will be taking that lesson and integrating back into my routine.

The release of negativity was a relief since returning home.  My coach, Jon Noland, always says the best thing an athlete can have is a short-term memory.  I have taken the lessons from this race, and now I am moving on to my next challenge.


FD3 Triathlon: Goof Recap

FD3 Triathlon: Goof Recap

The previous post was a review of the FD3 Triathlon Series as if it was a product.  Below you will find a more detailed account of my personal experiences during the race.  Let me know in the comments section if you have any feedback on which you prefer or any relevant comments.


Idina Menzel was singing “Defying Gravity” when my alarm clock announced it was 4:15 a.m. and that it was indeed time to rise.   It was the first time in a while, that I wished I could hit the snooze bar on race day.  Usually, I wake up with a bounce in my step, but today was a little different.  Not that I was not taking it seriously.  If training with Jon Noland and Tribal Multisport has taught me anything is that you do not “toe the line” if you are not going for the win.

My coaching methodology is a little different, but I have made a lot of progress with Tribal, so I have stuck with this mentality for my own training.  My coaching niche is very different as well.  While I train newcomers, or returning clients to the sport, Tribal trains athletes.  I have learned a lot in my time with Coach Jon Noland, and I find myself a better coach and athlete the more I do.

Nevertheless, the words were echoing in my head.  “If you are not going to go all out when you toe the line, then don’t.”  I knew once I got out there and saw my Tribal peeps I would be ready to go.

My head cleared after taking some calories from a pre-workout drink, and inhaling my vitamin supplements. I felt more like myself, so I quickly grabbed all my gear I prepared the night before, racked my bike, and headed out.

I tend to get a kick out of driving to a race.  It’s my time to contemplate my strategy and lessons learned while being surrounded by my own environment.

The YouTube soundtrack to the Rise and Shine video was blaring over my radio speakers as I approached the parking lot.  The full spectrum palette of colors were being displayed before me in tri-kits, helmets, and bikes as athletes were in all stages of preparation for their own challenges.

Check-in & Set-up

My preparation was completed prior to my arrival, so the only thing I did was grab my backpack from the trunk, remove my bike from my rack and stroll into the check-in area.

Triathlete’s tend to always worry about their bikes, and I am no exception.  I have been privy to plenty of stories of cyclists colliding head first with other cyclists, inanimate objects and people, where the first words muttered upon becoming conscience were not, “I am hurt” or “Is the other person ok?”, but  the fearful question; “Is my bike alright?!”  It doesn’t matter if they have a broken arm, leg or collarbone the first question is the same.

With that kind of mentality it is obvious we all tend to be security conscious about our bikes, but I have to say I do not carry that fear with me at a race venue.  I tend to believe two things; 1) the event planners have adequate security and 2) there are plenty more expensive bikes than mine around.

Multirace, as always, provided one rack at the entrance to the check-in area in order to allow the athletes to rack their bikes in order to keep the congestion down.  Of course, due to the aforementioned insecurities, most of the local triathletes did not utilize the racks, therefore it was ended up quite crowded when I arrived around 6am.

There was a table with two volunteers checking-in athletes and I ended up in a line with approximately 15 people, so I waited about 10 minutes to receive my bib, bike and helmet stickers.  However, the swag/t-shirt, body marking and chip distribution stations were less than a minute each, so overall it was a very smooth experience.

I had already bumped into a few other athletes I knew including my own client, Laura, whom would be defending her Age Group First Place finishes she earned in the first two events in this series.

Sweat already started rolling down my arms as I rolled my bike into it’s nesting place among the other carbon fiber speed machines in the transition area.  I was fairly quick to set my bike and running shoes, towel, helmet, hat, sunglasses and race belt at the front tire of my bike, when the rest of the crew started to notice I arrived.FFPCK-0055-ZF-8982-42221-1-001-022

Miles and Ted, decked out in the same Tribal camouflage tri-kit, found me and as we started socializing, Rick, Laura, Nick and Coach Jon had also joined in just as a photographer was strolling by.  We didn’t let that opportunity go to waste..


As we chatted on our way to the beach, the beginning of my race anxiety started to creep into my stomach.  No matter how many races I do, no matter how densely populated the field is, the nerves always pop up right before showtime.  The only difference is, I know to expect it now.

I jumped in the 83 degree Gulf of Mexico, to warm up and get a feel for the water.  It was unusually calm with a low tide which would make the swim fast, but would also allow for some of the less experienced swimmers to walk over the shallow sand bar in the beginning and the end of the swim course.  Sometimes, it could make it hard to swim around them.  It is one thing to pass, or swim around another swimmer, but a walker is a like an immovable object.

The swim is not my strongest portion of triathlon, but I have really been putting an effort in to become more efficient.  Three years ago, I would probably be one of the athletes overjoyed to have places in an 800-meter swim to be able to walk for a bit, but I have realized through my training, and as a coach, it is not efficient and could be detriment.

Running or walking in the water utilizes a great amount of quad and hamstring strength of which is needed more on the bike and run.  While, some of the other athletes, including myself, might actually be faster running in the water, it would likely cause a slower bike and run split, therefore not very cost effective.

I turned back toward shore just as one of the volunteers started corralling us out of the water in order to start the festivities.  The nerves were still there, but much less intense.  Having the opportunity to be enveloped by the water, and feel the grade of tension on my forearm as it pulls through the water always calms me down prior to a start of a race. That feeling is a reminder to my psyche that says, “Yo…Brad…this is nothing you haven’t done a thousand times before, either in training or a race.”

The Swim

Our Aussie announcer, gave his last instructions on the swim course, the first wave lined up and the triumphant siren of the air horn went off.  First, was the open wave, then the under 40 age groups, and at 7:07 am that same horn saturated our ears to send me and the 40 and over age group out into the salty current.

Running out in to the surf was not as easy as jumping into the pool.  Low tide kept the water even more shallow than usual, so duck running was all we could do until it was deep enough to dolphin dive and then finally start a good freestyle stroke.

I was able to swim to the first buoy pretty fast and it was smooth sailing from there.  I have been working on a long reach with a two-beat kick then driving the hip down as I pull through.  I will say it is probably the most efficient technique where I can stay relaxed, but it is far from fast.

During this race, I was surprised as I approached the second buoy and reached to find another foot there.  My inner FFPMK-1089-ZF-8982-42221-1-001-011dialogue reacted with “What? I caught someone?”.  I moved to the left and passed him.  I continued swimming and reached and hit someone thigh.  Now this was getting a little crazy.  I don’t pass people on the swim, they pass me.

At the final buoy prior to turning to the beach, everything seemed to come to a halt, as people started walking because it was shallow.  For a few steps I did the same just to get around some people, but I felt so good I actually wanted to swim.  When I found clean water, I continued swimming towards the finish.

My goal was to cross the mat at 15 minutes flat.  I came out of the water, crossed the mat and hit the button on my watch as it glowed 15:10.  An audible, “Wow, I’ll take it.” came out of my mouth after recognizing how close to my goal.  Last month at the FD3 #2, I walked out over 17 minutes, so I was pretty happy at that point.

Transition #1 (T-1)

I must have conquered my efficiency goals, because I had a ton energy to run into T1.  Of course I passed my bike and had to double back, but that was only a few seconds.  I put on my helmet as I slipped my bike shoes on and slid my bike back and under the bar as I headed to the mount line.  I clicked my watch as I crossed the mat at 2:59.  A different oral comment came blurting out which was a little negative compared to the first one since my goal was 2:30.

The Bike

The ride started like a rocket.  I was able to pick up speed fast and reach goal power within a few seconds of turning onto the main road.  The course would be two loops around Fort DeSoto Park.

Last month, I just wanted a strong bike, and I went out completely on feel.  This time I wanted to stay at between 85 and 90% of my FTP (Functional Threshold Power).  FTP is the maximum power in watts that can be held for 1 hour, in my terms, from fresh to dead.  Currently mine is calculated at 225, so I wanted to stay in-between 191-202 watts.

The wind is usually pretty intense at Ft. Desoto, but we were lucky the last two races of the series.  The wind was mild for the previous race and at this point I could feel the cool air against my tri-kit causing that goosebumps sensation, but still not as intense as the last few training rides I participated in here.

FFPTC-0534-ZF-8982-42221-1-001-033I started passing people down my right side without any challengers coming behind me until I the roundabout, marking the end of the first loop, came into view.  At that point the phrase  “Good Job Brad, keep it up” came from a passing rider, crystal clear as if he was walking next to me.  That rider was my coach, Jon Noland, screaming by on hit BMC Time Trial bike.

I kind of expected it.  Jon was competing in the Sprint Distance, so he started about 10 minutes behind me and as he swims much faster , and he bikes at around 25 mph versus my speed of around 22, it was only a matter of time, but I was happy to have held him off for almost my first, and his only loop.

The second loop felt a little tougher, but the miles clicked by and I stuck to my game plan.  I continued to pass riders, but I did get caught by one and I used him the last five miles as a motivator to push a touch harder.

As the dismount line came closer I loosened the straps of my bike shoes and started to slip my feet out.  At the line, I left my shoes in the clips, dismounted and ran to my transition space.  I hit the button on my watch as I crossed the mat, but didn’t look at the time, but it ended up 54:35 while my goal was to be under 55 minutes.

Transition #2 (T-2)

Again, I heard the sound of Jon telling me “Relax Brad. Smooth is fast” as I departed transition in 1:03 where my goal was 1:10.  It was probably pretty clear my astonishment as “Yeah Baby!” came spitting out of my mouth as I crossed the timing mat.

The Run

My thoughts ventured to the last FD3 race.  It was extremely hot and I ended up doing a little more walking then I wanted to, so this time even though I had a time goal, my inner monologue was telling me to just keep running.  “If you keep running the time will take care of itself.”

The first mile is all on hard packed sand, which was even harder due to the rain experienced the night before.  This made FFPMK-2485-ZF-8982-42221-1-001-028it a little easier to navigate, but the sun was really beating down, and the temperature was starting to rise.  As I rounded the corner toward the asphalt path, my watch vibrated and chirped at the first mile. I looked and was happy to have run under a 9 minute mile which lined up with my goal o 55 minutes or under.

The first aid station, held out Hammer Heed, and water, which both were deliciously ice cold.  I grabbed one of each, downed them and kept running.

My legs started to get heavy, but I knew it was more because I needed three miles for my legs to transition and gain my rhythm.  At the 1.5 mile aid station I grabbed 2 cups of water which I downed one and poured the other down my back.  That felt so good, as the water was still ice cold.

The turnaround brought me back to that aid station where I grabbed one more cup and doused myself.  I could feel the sun heat my skin to an uncomfortable level.  The sweat was starting to creep into my eyes, and the suffering started.

I ended up slowing down a bit, but I kept running.  As I was passing the finish line in order to start my second loop, I could hear my friend Josh, yelling for me to get going as I walked through the water stop there to pick up some hydration.  It was only a few seconds before I restarted on the beach path toward the fourth mile marker.

The second loop was more like the first, which was surprising.  I expected to feel like I needed to slow down more, but I didn’t.  I had more in me than I thought.  When I passed the 5 mile sign, I was relieved, but felt like I even had more to give.  I picked up the pace a bit in anticipation of the finish line and then I decided to progressively get faster as that last mile clicked on.

I looked at my watch, thinking 1.2 miles to go, then before I knew it I only had 0.7 to go, then 0.5 and when I could see the finish line, I picked it up.  The only thing running through my head was Finish Strong, and the faster I get to the finish, the faster I am done.

I crossed the finish line and realized I was completely spent.



One volunteer gave me a medal, while another detached my timing chip from my ankle, and a third handed me a cold bottle of water.

As I stumbled to the back of the finish section, my client Laura found me.  I asked how she did, and disappointingly she told me that she placed third.  I was overjoyed, but she didn’t feel the same.

It was noticeable that this race was more populated than the last race, so I knew she would have more competition then the prior races.  I asked about her time, and she told me she hadn’t looked yet, so I grabbed her by the arm and pulled her toward the timing table.  The volunteers took our bib numbers and gave back slips with our times on them.

Laura PR’d again, and wouldn’t you know it, so did I, by 6 minutes.  I couldn’t believe it.

I ended up finishing the run in 55:04 which was pretty much my goal time, and a final time of 2:08:47.  That time put me in 8th place in my age group, which I was happy to be in the top 10.  I wasn’t going to be standing on the podium, but I was happy with my performance and my PR.

I am not the fastest, but I continually strive to do better than I did the last time.  In July I PR’d this race by over 15 minutes and in a month I PR’d again by another 6 minutes.  While I did have time goals, of which I was a little off of, I did what I came out to do.

The best part was Laura and my Tribal buddies had a stellar day.  Yelena picked up her second Female Over-all win.  My former client and Tribal buddy Josh, picked up his Age Group win.  Rick won the Masters division. Miles ended up with a 2nd place AG, and of course Jon again took the Overall win in the Sprint.tribal

We did find out that since Laura took 1st in the first two races of the series and 3rd in the last, she won 1st place in her age group for the series.  That was very cool and I am so proud of her for that accomplishment.laura


The rest of the time consisted of socializing, and eating as usual.

The experience of this race was stellar.  I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys the Sprint or the International Distance triathlons.  Just be prepared for the climate and the possibility of a windy bike and challenging swim.

What did you think of this format of a race review versus my first post?  Do you have a favorite race that could be enjoyed by other triathletes or duathletes?
I would really appreciate your feedback in the comments below.

Carpe Vitam! (Seize Life!)

Florida Triathlon Review – FD3

Florida Triathlon Review – FD3


The event company Multirace, holds numerous running and Florida triathlon events, and recently has planned an event in Habana, Cuba.  The Multirace Florida triathlon events, I have competed in, have not been hugely populated, but yet large enough to feel that there was some competition.

This third race in the FD3 Florida Triathlon series was no exception.  The race is held at Fort DeSoto Park (hence the FD in the title) in Pinellas County, Florida, therefore it holds stunning views of white sand beaches and beautiful sunrises.

They offer three events;

  • Sprint Triathlon – 1/4 mile Swim, 10 mile bike, 3.1 mile run
  • International Triathlon  – 1/2 mile swim, 20 mile bike, 6.2 mile run
  • Duathlon –  (1 mile run, 10 mile bike, 3.1 mile run)


The online and offline registration is very well-organized.  Tables are set-up with the two volunteers checking names, identification and handling bibs while the second station hands out swag and t-shirts.  Concluding the process is body marking and chip retrieval.  Everything moves pretty smooth when the athletes are composed and listening.

There are bike racks at the entrance to the registration area, but when athlete’s decide not utilize them, the space becomes a little crowded causing some slow-down in the process.


The FD3 Florida triathlon swims take place in Florida Triathlon FD3 Swimthe Gulf of Mexico about a quarter-mile from
shore.  Depending on the tide the water is estimated anywhere from three to fifteen feet deep across the total swim.  Along with plenty of extra safety from paddle-boarders and kayakers, this really helps in the case of any first-time open water or nervous swimmers.



The bike is slightly short coming in around 9.69 Florida Triathlon FD3 Bikemiles per loop while the sprint triathlon and duathlon are one loop and the international triathlon is two.  However, there plenty of marshals, spectators, volunteers and police
department volunteers spread throughout the closed course for safety purposes.



The run portions of the events consist of loops Florida Triathlon FD3 Runwhich are 3.1 miles long.  Athletes start on the beach, on a hard packed sand trail for about a mile and continue
to an out-and-back course on an asphalt paved trail.  When they reach the turnaround of the out-and-back, they are greeted with the actual Fort DeSoto for which the park is named.  Most noteworthy for the first-timer is this humbling sight used during the Spanish-American War in 1900.

Three aid stations are on the run loop; at the entrance, mile 1 and mile 1.5.  In addition, the mile 1 aid station then doubles as also the 2.5 mile aid station.   Even with the abundance of water and sports drinks on the course, the dates of the race are in the three hottest and humid months of the year in Tampa.  At temps averaging over 90 degrees and humidity over 60%, the wide open run course becomes tough on a lot of runners that are susceptible to the heat.


All three events utilize a transition area built by Multirace in the parking lot North Beach. The Swim and Bike entry are on the north side while the bike and run exit are on the south.  It is the basic transition area with bars to hang your bike.  Luckily the race is not huge, so there is plenty of room to set up without the risk of equipment being trampled or moved.

Finally, the finish line has plenty of spectators, photographers while the energetic announcer entertains. He always gives his best attempt to give everyone recognition as they cross the finish line.


Florida Triathlon FD3 Awards

Laura Engleby, Irongoof Client Athlete, taking 1st at the FD3 Sprint Triathlon

  • Great events for first-timers
  • Safety is a priority
  • USA Triathlon Sanctioned
  • Closed bike course
  • Not highly populated
  • Gulf Swim close to shore
  • Plenty of awards


  • Florida triathlon dates are in the three hottest months in Tampa Bay
  • Run course has no shade (see first point).


  • The first mile, and possibly fourth mile, of the run is on packed sand
  • The final and possible middle 2 miles of the run are on asphalt


This year I have completed two of the three Florida Triathlons and I really enjoyed them.  They are flat, fun and the event staff really take care of the athletes.  As a result, safety and an enjoyable experience seem to be at the top of Multirace’s priority list.