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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6 Tips For Quality Run Training

6 Tips For Quality Run Training

Tips for Quality Run Training Train no faster than one pace quicker than the race you are training for. For example, 5k pace is good for an Olympic-distance race, while half-marathon pace suffices...

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The Goof at the Races

The Goof at the Races

There is a few races that I have neglected to report on.  I decided that being most of them were smaller and very…well…uneventful, I thought I would just give the highlights.

Escape from Ft DeSoto Sprint Triathlon

Taking part in brick workouts at the North Beach at Ft DeSoto allows for familiarity of the surroundings, so when competing in a race in the same location, it is like having home field advantage, unless the course goes off the path.

The swim was 800 meters which for me is usually pretty slow, but the current was decent and I was able to stick nextEFFD to the bouys so I felt like I improved on the swim, but it still wasn’t fast enough.  I was able to sprint out of the water and head to transition with energy to spare.

The bike was one simple loop around Ft. DeSoto with a familiar headwind on the way out and a tail wind on the way back.  I averaged over 21 mph, so I felt pretty good, but I overdid it just slightly because I felt it on the run.  The run was slightly longer than a typical sprint and the second half was on the beach, so I really felt it on my legs.  I still had enough to sprint into the finish line, but it was a lesson learned that even on a ten-mile bike leg, I still need to take it easy at the start and ride negative splits in the second half.

Afterward the finish line was filled with excitement sharing stories of the race with friends and watching a few of them at the award ceremony on the podium.  It was a fun race and while I am not huge fan of Sprint Triathlons, I will definitely be taking part in this one again.

Tampa Corporate 5k

This race was put on by my friends Ben Mena and Beth Shaw (MenaShaw Races).  It was incredibly well-organized with numerous tents for vendors and a line of food trucks preparing everything from smoothies to homemade doughnuts.  Of course a beer truck was strategically placed near the finish line to provide access to exhausted runners looking to replenish their carbohydrates.

Police Run2It always amazes me when Ben and Beth pull these races off.  I know it was basically the two of them doing all the organizing, fundraising and negotiating with vendors and sponsors, so when I walked up to the site and saw an enormous amount of people and activity, I was overwhelmed with pride and honor just to know these two personally.

I was on Nick’s team, No Limit Marketing, so he gave me my shirt and we took a couple of photos and lined up for the race. I really wanted to just take it easy during this race, but the energy got the better of me.  The course was interesting, as it led out of downtown, then off the beaten path where the terrain changed to broken pavement and then a turnaround back to the start.  I was on track for a PR, but the course turned out to be 3.4 instead of 3.1 due to a last-minute logistical changed ordered by the city.  Interesting enough, I only know this due to a conversation with Ben after the event was cleaned up.  There was no mention of it during the event which is a credit to my friends, because it was seamless and no one really cared, because everyone was having a great time.

Our team actually came in 4th but just a couple of minutes.  St. Anthony’s Triathlon was going on that weekend, so Nick decided to just coast through it, which was smart, but he kicked himself later because if he would have actually ran it we would have placed.  We still had a great time.

St. Anthony’s Olympic Triathlon

It was a crazy day for St Anthony’s this year.  The expo was as expected with numerous vendors all giving free swag, free trials, and providing goods for the race and future races.  They all kept the excitement of the race consistent.  I could not keep my heart rate down during the expo.  After a quick bike, run and swim I walked over to check-in and aMCSTA press conference was taking place.  On the panel were a number of champion triathletes and NFL superstar.  Hines Ward, former NFL player for the Pittsburgh Steelers, was on the panel due to his upcoming entry into the 2013 World Championship Ironman Triathlon in Kona, October 12th.  He has never competed in triathlon before so on his road to the Ironman he is competing in the different distances and St. Anthony’s was to be his first Olympic Distance Triathlon.  My favorite triathlete, Mirinda Carefrae was sitting right next to him, because they are both sponsored by Chocolate Milk.  That was a huge treat for me, especially since I was able to talk to her and I got a hug from her afterward.  (Awww.shucks)  She was on her way to a meeting, so unfortunately I didn’t get a picture, but maybe she will recognize me at a later date and at that time I will get a pic.  But I digress.

The next day the expected wave of anxiety especially since the water looked a little choppy and being my confidence in the water is a little shaky, I was even more anxious.  I guess my feelings were correct because after the pros started Phil LeHaye, the race director, came over the loudspeaker and stated the course would be shortened for safety sake.  I really thought  that I would be happy due to my limited swimming confidence, but I was amazed at how disappointed I was.  To me it was no longer an Olympic Triathlon.  I ended up doing this exact same course two years prior when they moved the swim but I was even worse at that point.

2013-05-06Truth be told that was the most unusual part of the race.  I completed the swim without any real issues, the bike was uneventful with an average of 20.8 mph and I even was able to complete the 10k run with only one hitch; my bladder told me after mile 4 that I needed to empty it.  I told it that we only had two more miles, but I had already held it for a while and it just wasn’t going to allow me to keep going for another two miles without relieving it.  I ended up using a port-o-potty on the route which took even longer because I was wearing a one-piece tri suit that Zoot had sent me with their new technology.  I usually am not a fan of one-piece tri-suits but this one even though it was black, was cool and comfortable.

I finished in 2:43 which was 37 minutes better than two years prior with the same distance.  If it wasn’t for the stop it might have been up to 7-8 minutes faster.  Either way I was happy with my performance and I felt really strong crossing the line.

Police Appreciation Run

My friend Rich texted me a few days before this 10k race.  I had no intention of running it, but

PArun

I had not had the opportunity to hang out with Rich for a while and I wanted to catch up with him.  Of course Rich is really fast genetically, so even with all the training I had been doing I still couldn’t catch him, but I enjoyed the race.

This is a Chris Lauber directed race, whom I just have the utmost respect for, not to mention the race was dedicated
to the current and fallen Policemen and women in the area.  Great cause, and a great race, even with the 10k going off course for a bit.  We didn’t know this until we returned to the finish line, but Chris was lucky because even thought we drifted, it was still exactly 6.2 miles, start to finish.   There were plenty of vendors afterward, with food and recovery fluids.  I highly recommend it to anyone.

Miles for Moffitt

I believe I have stated this in other posts, but to make money to live I contract myself out as an IT Program/Project Manager for large firms.  What exactly do I do?  Well, companies hire me to manage projects that usually have over million dollar budgets, like re-designing an online banking site for a well-known financial company, or the development of a government website with over 50,000 pages and applications.  I identify the scope of the project, procure the resources both human and material, set the schedule, manage the budget, mitigate the risks, serve as a liaison between the business executives, IT department, internal and external vendors and worker bees, and manage the tasks in order to complete the project.

MMSBMy latest contract is with Gerdau Steel and they are a major sponsor for Miles for Moffitt, which is a very popular event in the Tampa Bay Area.  Gerdau was nice enough to allow me to run the 5 mile race for them.  They have basically three races the 5 miler, the 5k and the  1 mile run/walk.  The 5 miler and the 5k can be run either timed or untimed.  This was a well-organized event with a relatively flat course on the campus of the University of South Florida.  Surprisingly enough there was a couple of hills, but nothing that felt terrible.  I saw a few of my clients while out there and hung out with Rich again.  I averaged 7:30 miles as I did the week before during the Police Appreciation 10k, so I was content with my performance.

After the races concluded, and the thank yous are stated, they have a parade for the cancer survivors that ran the race.  It was a really awesome site to see all of these people who were diagnosed with cancer now running in a race.  it was inspiring and motivating to know they came back from as close to hell as one can get, and stronger than before.

The Dunedin Sprint Triathlon

I have completed this race for a couple of years now, and since my first triathlon is no longer around, the Morton Plant Mease Triathlon, I decided to make this one my annual “remember how it all started” race.

DTRI

This race is held on Honeymoon Island which is a great beach with usual minimal issues, but this year we were told that the bottom was a little rocky and we should bring water shoes.  I decided to wear my Vibram 5-fingers because they do not hold a lot of water and  I thought they would be easy to get out of.

The swim was pretty much a water run due to the shallowness of the  water.  I usually incorporate some water running during my swim sessions so I know the resistance that water can put on your legs, so I dolphin dived/swam most of the way.  I was going to be using my legs enough during the bike and the run, I didn’t need to be wearing them down, prior.  I came out of the water in the faster 10% of the wave, but was slowed down by two things.  The first being getting out of my shoes.  While there was no water giving me issues, the shoes had constricted around my foot so I had to fight to get them off, and then exiting transition had a very narrow trail, so there was a line of us only able to shuffle to the start mat.  Other than that the race went great I finished in 1:05 which was another PR for me by a couple of minutes.

And that brings us up to date on race reports.  My next race is the NYC Triathlon which is an Olympic distance triathlon in the heart of New York City July 14th.  I am really looking forward to this race due to the course being around my favorite city.

Carpe Viam!

Tribute Tuesday #5 – Benjamin Mena

There are people out there that take everything in stride and just let the world unfold around them, and there are people who have decided there is so much negativity in the world it is much easier to be oblivious to everything.  Either way, in my opinion, if it makes you happy, then do it.  There are a few people out there, that have a passion for making the world a better place.  There are those who find one cause and passionately support it, which is phenomenal, but a rare few people out there are able to spread their power of influence, courage, and passion to every cause, organization and individual in need they can.  My friend Ben is one of those people.

Before I tell you about his cool “Run for Cause” fun runs, or the races he has organized and the races coming up, let me tell you about Ben Mena the runner.  Ben and I met through friends from my tri-club the A-Train and some friends from the Run Progressive track workouts.  I knew of him and knew he was fast, but that didn’t justify what I saw when I first ran with him.  I am amazed at people who can run a marathon with 7:30 average per mile pace.  This guy hammers through half-marathons in under 6-minute miles and then will turn around and bike for 20 without skipping a beat.

My favorite memory of watching Ben was actually a cycling workout.  Ben was coerced into joining us and Pete (Tribute #2) let him borrow his road bike.  This bike had pedal cages on it because Ben didn’t have cycling shoes or cleats and this was going to be his first ride.  Well, Ben goes out in front with the “A” group and is really strong.  We all thought, “OK, we will just hang back here and watch him die out and pick him up at the turnaround.”  He reached the turnaround and just kept going and beat us all.  First time out!  A few weeks later he decides to do a duathlon in Orlando for the first time and he finishes first, overall.   Ben’s VO2 max is off the charts.  Maybe that is why he continues to help those in need, with a VO2 max that high, his heart is huge.

Ben organizes a monthly fun run in Brandon, Florida that gives to a different charity each month.  I have been running in every one since July and I have seen no less than 50 people at any of them.  He also is part of a duo with Beth Shaw (Dis-com-BOB-ulated Running), of which they have successfully completed their first race called the Shape Up for Summer 5k and now they have another one coming up called the Corporate 5k in downtown Tampa.  The Shape Up for Summer 5k had well over 750 runners which is well over what they expected and as I used the race as a culmination runs for my clientele, let me just say it was one of the best organized 5k runs I had participated in.  Beth and Ben did a really amazing job, so if you find a race organized by MenaShaw Races, you can be sure to have a great experience.

With that being said, Ben has another race he has organized and this one has an interesting spin on it while helping out some people that can really use it.  I will let him tell you in his own words.  Let me introduce, Benjamin Mena.

Benjamin (Ben) Mena
Birthdate: 8/25/83 – Virgo
Place of Birth: Virginia Beach, VA
Place growing up: Charleston SC and Bremerton, WA
High School: Cocoa Beach High
High School sports: Soccer, Cross Country, Track
College: University of Central Florida
College Sports: Cross Country, Track
Other Sports: Ummmm…..  nope

I usually describe you as one of the fastest runners in the Tampa Bay area. What started you running?
I used to be the guy that would make fun of the runners and throw stuff at them.  (in HS).  I thought running was dumb and pointless.   So after a win-less soccer season, the soccer girls tried to convince me to run cross country to prep for soccer… I said yeah right, that’s dumb… their response was just run behind us.  What teenage guy can say no.   after my first year running (JR year) I developed a passion for it and it quasi-took over my life.
JR year was just an introduction to the sport. Our workouts were easy as hell, but the one thing I loved my coach for (she was hot also) she taught us all how to make running fun and enjoyable.   My Sr year of high school we had a new coach.  She had a background as a professional runner, so she knew her stuff.  She helped give me the dream of being a college athlete.   At that point, I wasn’t good enough for any college team but I worked my ass off as hard as I could.  I had the one gift that every coach wants in their athlete.  Burning desire to make it.
The summer before college was pretty crazy.  I was working 5 jobs to try to get ready for college (until my car died) then I had to drop my job at Publix [Supermarket]because it was a 20-mile bike ride each way).  I would bike to my different jobs, then get home and run and then would be able to start hanging out with friends after 11 pm.   During that time I would never miss a run no matter how bad I wanted to have fun.
I still to this day don’t know why coach chose me out of all the other walk-ons..  but I am thankful she did.  I ran with my heart and I knew I had more to prove that everyone that came in on scholarships.  (I also didn’t have a car… so I got a lot more miles in than most people.   Outside all the running I was walking 5-14 miles a day to and from, and around school)  By the end of the first season, I was granted an athletic scholarship and the following year I was team captain…

Ben doing what he does best

What and When was your first 5k time? What and when was your fastest 5k time?

Year of high school.  I don’t remember the time but I was low 20s, but my fastest was 15:20 in college.

What kind of workouts did you do to get that fast? 
You don’t want to know the schedule.  But my favorite workout was mile repeats!



What was your average weekly mileage?
60-80 was the average.  During the summer we would crank it up for base building.  My highest week was 112 and 90% of those miles were done along the Appalachian Trail.

I mentioned above that you hold a monthly fun run named “Run for a Cause” at the Cork & Olive in Brandon.  How did that come about?
Just had the idea while at the bar.  I love hosting fun events for people…  and it came about from there.  our first event I was hoping for 10 people… and over 50 ended up showing up.

How many different charities have you hosted?  
7 or 8 now

If someone had a cause they would like to have hosted at one of your events what is the best way to contact you? Best is through FaceBook.


The shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School has devastated the country. You chose to act quickly and do something about it by hosting this Virtual Run. Can you give the details?
This is a virtual half-marathon and virtual 5K. Since it is virtual, you can complete it anywhere in the world. You can run, walk, swim, bike, anything you like, and you can complete the 13.1 miles or 5K all at once, over the course of a week, or whenever you can. Just complete all miles between now and Jan 31st. This is on the honor system – you do not have to report your miles.
The registration fee for the Half Marathon is $30.
Register Here: http://www.active.com/half-marathon/tampa-fl/sandy-hook-elementary-memorial-half-marathon-and-5k-2013
Event Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/events/186264894845690/ 

What gave you the Idea?
I am on the board for a few charities, and I was already researching a way to do a virtual 5k. When the devastation occurred, I couldn’t sleep, so I mulled it over for a while and by Sunday I had it up on Active.com and Facebook and 200 people already had agreed to participate. Today on Facebook there are over 1800 that have committed and a little over 250 that have actually signed up on Active.com
It grew a lot faster than I thought. It went viral. I originally thought about a few people here in Tampa to raise around 1000 dollars, but now it is well over that.

Beth and Ben

 

Do you have any other races coming up?
Beth and I have been organizing a Tampa Bay Corporate 5K.
This is an event where the runners choose one of the 4 charities that this race will give back too. Every person that registers for the race will get a vote (fill in the blank) for the charity of their choice. The charity with the most votes will receive a portion of the proceeds along with Little Things for Cancer, Cystic Fibrosis (Tampa Chapter), and Operation Helping Hand.
You can get more details on the Facebook event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/131275133693630
or on the event website: http://www.tampacorporate5k.com/

Ben and his fiance Jennifer
Ben and the Goof

Milestone Monday & Magic Number 6

Happy Monday Everyone.  I know it isn’t much but this will be a small milestone as it’s the 20th blog I have written.  I have not achieved the frequency of my friend Kat at Sneakers and Fingerpaints who writes 30-40 entertaining and quality posts a month, but I am working up to it.  I would really like to allow you to follow me through this last week as I get ready for the Revolution 3 Florida 70.3 this weekend, so I am going to attempt to write a blog a day on my thoughts, workouts and other tasks I am doing in order be as fresh and strong as possible for this 70.3 Triathlon.  The Magic Number is 6.  Six days until the race.

This weekend was filled with slightly less intensity of training as I started the tapering process for the Rev3.  On Saturday the A-Train completed a pretty intense 6 mile run followed by a swim in the extremely choppy surf of Clearwater beach.  It was perfect weather for a run which took us along the beach and over the Sand Key Bridge. This was a good last quad burner for some explosiveness during the run portion next week.  I always like running with Nick Z.  He is an extremely fast runner so even though he is not running at his pace, he pushes me to keep my pace a little faster than usual.  Not quite a tempo run, but fast enough for this shake out run.  

I went up to the ballroom level of the  Hyatt right near Pier 60 after the run and had a chance to get to know one of our new members Jessica M.   The hotel is very plain from the outside but inside it is really beautiful.  We bought a couple of beverages at the coffee kiosk and then went outside to chat and found comfy couches and chairs with views for the water and the beach.  A perfect wind down to a tough workout.  Jessica is a recent transplant from Brooklyn, New York, with a love for working out and running.  We found out during the Miles for Hope ride how tough this woman really is.  I mentioned in that post that we averaged about 18.5 mph during that ride.  Ms. Jessica kept up with us the whole way on a recently purchased bike, with no cages or clips on her feet.  She did the whole thing with running shoes and flat pedals.  That had to be really difficult.  I probably couldn’t have been able to keep up.


Sunday we rode a semi-fast 42 miles on the Sun Coast Trail.  We started with seven riders and it was very comfortable.  of course I lost the valve to my Speedfill early in the ride, but with two backup bottles I was still able to hydrate effectively.  The ride started a little chilly for Florida.  I don’t know the exact temperature, but it felt low 60s.  I was concerned at first because I really wasn’t prepared with long sleeves or with arm warmers, but after a brief warm-up spin, Pete broke away for a bit and I followed.  At 23 mph and spinning at at a cadence of 95 rpm, I ended up getting my heart rate up and I warmed up very fast.  As we closed in on the baseball fields, marking the halfway point, Pete took it up another notch and we were both hitting 25-27 mph  for the mile prior.  Oh did I mention the first half was with a decent head wind?  I didn’t realize it till I looked down at my Garmin and noticed I was working pretty hard to keep 19-20 mph.  The group and I took quick break and then headed back which turned out to be faster and easier due to the tail wind.  Pete and I kept a pretty good pace the rest of the ride with Jaime, Stephanie and one other gentlemen on our wheels.  About 6 miles prior to being back to the cars, Pete decided to hang back a bit and Steph got rolling with a really nice pace so we played cat and mouse sticking to about a 21-23 mph pace.  It was a fun ride, but luckily not too intense to keep our legs for next weeks race.

I went home, showered, rolled, stretched and then headed for a really good brunch at Grillsmith.  If you have not had their brunch I highly recommend it.

This morning I woke up extremely lazy, but I knew if I didn’t jump into the pool, I would come up with every excuse in the book not to do it later.  Amy, my coach, had me doing a short workout but was form focused which is what I need right now.

WARM UP:
200 WARM UP
50 CATCH UP STROKE
50 ON YOUR SIDE (1,2,3 X 5 KICKS ON SIDE)
50 ARM STOP AND LOOK
50 KICK BOARD CATCH UP
50 KICK FREE STYLE
100 PULL BUOY, FEELING THE GLIDE
MAIN SET:
All repeats are with a steady Rest Interval (RI):
10 X 100 ALL OUT!
10 SEC REST BETWEEN INTERVALS
COOL DOWN:
2 X 25 UNDERWATER NO BREATH
200 FORM FOCUS SWIM
LUNGES

As you can see it wasn’t a long swim by any stretch, but it was enough for me.  I actually love these workouts, because of the intervals.  It doesn’t seem like it takes as long.  This workout took me about 45 minutes, where I am usually in the pool close to 75-90.  See since I really do not like long workouts, I probably need to do more of them, you think?
My diet today will consist of a good amount of protein  with vegetables and a good amount of water.  Breakfast was 4 eggs, sweet potato and turkey sausage with salsa,  Lunch will be a spinach and romaine salad with a lot of chicken, vegetables and a splashed with a light balsamic vinaigrette  and dinner with be a lean steak with another sweet potato and green beans with almonds.  In between, I have a protien shake for morning and an apple and almonds for this afternoon snacks.  Pretty lame for a day of eating but I’ll enjoy it nonetheless.
That should take care of Manic Monday.  Tomorrow I hope to start a regular post called Tribute Tuesday where I choose one person whom has greatly affected me positively and give you my story of the why and how, and then I interview them in order to let you into their personalities.
CARPE VIAM!!

2 Races in One Day?

I thought it was kinda nutty when I was invited to the Sunrise/Sunset Challenge, but I wasn’t sure the impact it would have on me.  I looked at the distances of the two races, Top Gun and the Twilight Triathlons, and thought, “What the hell?  The two distances do not even add up to an Olympic.  How difficult could it be?”  What I didn’t count on was the increased effort level?

The plan was hammer the Top Gun and do the Twilight for fun. (I am a poet and didn’t even know it.) Yeah. Right.  Considering I have been competing and training for more long course triathlons lately, I really thought I would finally be able to conquer the sprint.  My last full sprint was two years ago, when I competed in a few sprints in order to get ready for a marathon my times were less than admirable.  To be honest, I was happy with 1:20 at the time.  Now, after a few Ironman 70.3s and last year’s full Ironman I really thought I could do a lot better.  Figuratively, I actually did, but in my mind it still wasn’t what I wanted, but there were some small achievements.

I picked up an A-Train Tri member, Jaime Breibert, around 5am and headed out to Ft. DeSoto.  After the experiencing the pay-to-park line for the Escape from Ft. DeSoto Triathlon, I was pleasantly surprised this event was exempt so there were no delays driving into the park.  Nice!  Like every other race I have competed or watched at Ft. DeSoto the organization of the event was outstanding.  The line for body marking was minimal, the transition area was large enough to accommodate all of the athletes bikes, space for their transition setup and extraneous bags.  Walking into transition I spent  minimal time setting up my bike, helmet and sunglasses, towel, bike shoes, and running gear including my choice of shoes (this time being my Brooks Pure Cadence), running belt and hat.  I wasn’t rushed for time, or inconvenienced by other athletes.  It was smooth sailing which is always nice since it eliminates any unwanted stress.

I headed on down to the beach with Nick Zivolich and Jaime where the low pitched but high energy voice was repeating instructions over the speaker system.  It was a nice and comfortable environment I have come to love over the past years.  The energy of the upcoming race increasingly becoming more and more intense as the time for the first heat was getting closer.  I caught up with a bunch of friends and familiar fellow tri community members I have accumulated over the last years.  This is absolutely one of my favorite times of the race.   I have been really lucky this year as my age group has been assigned early heat times, so the intense anticipation has been minimal.  Last year, I was not so lucky, but I understand the race directors strategy of moving the groups around each year to be fair.  It will be interesting to find out what they where I will be starting next year.  I was in the fifth heat this year only 12 minutes after the first and immediately following Jaime’s heat.

I wished Jaime and Victoria luck and intensely watched them swim out to the first buoy.  Just a quick  disclaimer.  I totally and utterly suck at swimming.  For me triathlon is survive the swim and get on the bike where the competition really begins.  Not that I haven’t been working at it, but honestly, if for some reason I have to skip a workout, I’ll skip a swim before a bike, run or strength workout, but I digress.   The horn finally went off and my personal race had started.  I had been analyzing my swim prior to this, and just recently had the epiphany that maybe my pull of my arm through the water was possibly to shallow to allow me any kind of real speed.  I usually finish with the heat behind me, and even sometimes with the heat behind that one, but this time following my experiment of dipping my arm deeper and pulling a little harder, (Voila!!) I actually finished in the middle of my heat.  As I ran to my bike I noticed silver swim caps in front of me and coming behind me.  A huge smile came over my face as I was slipping into my bike shoes and put on my helmet and sunglasses.  I really couldn’t believe it.  At this point I already felt like a winner.

I ran out of transition, jumped on my bike and headed out to the course I knew so well, due to all of the brick workouts I completed here with my A-Train Triathlon family.  My goal; keep my speed above 21 while keeping a cadence under 96.  The whole ride was pretty uneventful.  The same word came out of my mouth more than anytime in the short period I have been racing.  I continually yelled the word “left” as I was passing other athletes on my right, of course it was disconcerting when I heard it coming from my left.  The ego boost came when I finished the final roundabout yelling “left” to a male athlete that had passed me at the beginning of my ride.  As, I came into transition the only thought was how fast can I get in and out of transition, start the run and whether or not I had pushed a little to hard on the bike.  According to my computer I had averaged well above 21, so was that too much?

I pulled on my shoes, grabbed my hat and ran out of transition buckling my race belt with my number attached to the front.  I grabbed water on the way, a little disappointed when it turned out to be very warm, but it was wet.  As I started trying to increase the cadence I noticed that my legs were very heavy, not a good sign.  I kept saying to myself this is fine, just lean from the ankles and let gravity fuel your momentum.  As much I told myself to lift my legs and lean a little more, my body refused to submit to what my head was commanding.   I continued through the first mile to the fort, and very, very slowly my legs started to loosen a little, and my cadence started to increase.  Passing the 1 mile aid station, I noticed a little more energy in my step and my hip flexors obeying my will.  Then I turned the corner and I remembered.  Crap!  The middle mile of this race is on SAND!  The lower extremities of my body surprised me as they adapted immediately to their new environment.  I guess all those beach runs with Amy Eck had actually done something for me.  All of the sudden I found myself enjoying the run.  My legs stretched out, by body leaned, my cadence finally reached 180 (I think) and I was flying.  Who would’ve thought feeling all that resistance under my feet would actually transform into moving faster?  Not me, but after begging my body to obey earlier I was not going to look a gift horse in the mouth, so before my body decided any differently I picked up my pace.  Turning on the path back to the asphalt I caught another athlete with a 44 on his calf. Hmm…an athlete in my wave I will place in front of…cool.  With that thought completed I noticed another male runner in front of me with the number 41 on his calf.  My only thought; “You are mine!”  With the finish line in sight and the 3 mile marker on my left, I started to sprint with the finish line getting larger in my view and the runner in front of me coming closer and just a few feet from the timing mat, I caught him and jumped in front.  A short term goal accomplished.  I was so wiped out I could not immediately put my foot on the stool in order for the volunteer to remove my  chip.  I had to step over to a section of baracade and keep myself from falling for a quick second.  After a half a minute I recovered enough to get my chip removed, grab some water and meet some friends at the end of the finish line assembly.  Jaime had just finished and Speedy Nick was there already dried off and drinking some water.

With as exhausted as I was how was I ever going to this again in less than 12 hours?

After greeting some friends and coaches, watching some other friends and athletes come across the finish, I headed out to find some water and Gatorade.  I noticed some preliminary results were posted, so I walked over in the hopes mine might just be posted and as luck, good or bad, would have it they were.  My first split was the swim, and I was pleasantly surprised 7:53…cool.  Less than 2 min per 100m…I’ll take that considering my miserable swimming performances leading to this race.  Second split was the bike..26:51 averaging 22.3 MPH…Sweet! I never did that before.  Finally, a 26.35..5k run.  Well, I have run much faster, but not during a triathlon.  8:33 miles per minute…honestly I thought I did better, but I accepted it.  More Bricks, more bricks, more bricks.

Overall, 1:06:36.  A personal record(PR) since my last Sprint was 1:19 so you would think I would be happy and at first I was, until I looked at my place; 38th with only 67 athletes in my age group.  Not even in the top 50 percent.  That dropped me from my high pretty fast.  There were still runners on the course so maybe there a few more in my group out there where I can at least be in the top half.  As I check the results while I write this, it turns out there were I am ranked 39th out of 84 so I made it, just barely but I did make the top half.

The end of the morning consisted of congratulating friends, socializing and grabbing some breakfast at Lucky Dills in downtown St. Pete.  I couldn’t have imagined a better morning.

Next up, the two race day continues.