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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NYC Marathon: Goof Recap

NYC Marathon: Goof Recap

If you didn’t have an opportunity to read the epic writing in the previous post, I discussed the reason “why” I ran the NYC Marathon, then I highly recommend that you do.  Not just because the writing was fantastic, but it is my hope that the recap will be more emotionally moving.

Delta carried us to New York City and back with no issues.  I was upgraded to the business class on my departing flight, and returned to Tampa in economy class.  Even with my average size, I felt extremely cramped in economy.  Scott and his six-foot-one-inch frame looked extremely uncomfortable.  It is obvious, that Delta increased their upgraded business class at the expense of the comfort of the economy class passengers.  My suggestion to anyone flying Delta to the NYC Marathon, just include the cost of the upgrade if the flight it over 3 hours.

The plans were made well in advance for room and board.  After each of us declared our opinions for a hotel of choice, one of our teammates found a condo in Chelsea that would accommodate all of us comfortably and provide a full kitchen to save a little money on meals.

Per an email from VRBO (Vacation Rentals By Owner) we were to pick up the keys at a local pizza restaurant located next door to the building housing the condo.

Team Tampa PKD arrived around 4 pm and the employees working that afternoon had absolutely no idea what we were talking about.  Of course, we called the management company and were basically told they did not receive the contract.  When we had the contract in hand we called the agency back but no one would answer our calls.

Here we were, in New York City, on marathon weekend, not to mention the third and fourth game of the World Series, homeless.

Teammate Kevin O’Brien to the rescue.  Kevin works for a landscape development company and happens to travel quite a bit, which was lucky for us.  With his Hilton Honors status we were able to procure two rooms at the Hilton Garden Inn located in Tribeca.  Thank you Kevin.

The rooms were updated, immaculate and comfortable.  Another, nice little value add of the Hilton Honors was the choice of extra points or free breakfast.  Kevin being the generous person he is, opted for the free breakfast for us which again helped save a little bit of money.  Again, Thank you Kevin.

With all of us now settled, we headed to the Javits Center to pick up our NYC Marathon packets.  The bibs numbered up to 72,999.  It still amazes me how easy it is to retrieve a bib, swag and t-shirt at the expo.  It runs like a well oiled machine.

NYC Marathon The Javits Center

The Javits Center

There is a booth for every few thousand bib numbers.  The athlete walks up to the booth that includes their bib number, shows ID and their registration card.  Then they receive their NYC Marathon bib and other instructions, verify their info and then walk towards the t-shirt area where on the way, they pick up a plastic swag bag that also serves as the gear bag for the race.  The official NYC Marathon t-shirt area is well-marked with a line for the different sizes and within a few minutes of walking into the expo, the athlete has bib, swag and t-shirt.

NYC Marathon The Expo

That isn’t the most exciting part of the  NYC Marathon expo.  There are vendors from all over the country whom give runners have the opportunity to try and buy the latest gear and gadgets.

One aspect of the expo I really enjoy, is the aura and feeling of the environment.  There is an excitement in the air of the larger expos that increases my heart rate a little and excites me to race.  It is probably one of my most favorite parts of any race weekend.

NYC Marathon Team Tampa PKD minus Karen

The following day we made another visit to the expo simply to walk around and make some purchases.  I found a couple of vendors that I had met at other races  and made some new contacts for product reviews.  Stay tuned.

I have loved New York City since the first moment I stepped into Manhattan years ago.  I have a lot of friends here, and I just really enjoy the pace and excitement of the city.

NYC Marathon NYC Times Square

There is always one place, that is mandatory to visit, at least once, every time I am in town.  John’s Pizza.  I couldn’t believe my ears, when Rich and Kevin decided not to partake.  It was their loss, so Scott and I headed over to John’s for lunch.  Carb loading, baby, I just love it.

I could write a full post on John’s, so I wont go into the heavenly scrumptiousness of their pizza here, but trust this self-proclaimed, pizza connoisseur, when I say the explosion of flavors that emanate from each bite, redefines the word delicious.

NYC Marathon Brad & Scott at John'sNYC Marathon Brad digging inNYC Marathon The Pie

Saturday night, we were scheduled to have dinner with the PKD Foundation and the other runners from different areas at Carmine’s.  Scott, Kevin, Karen and I were all pretty familiar with the city and had even known of Carmine’s as it is pretty well-known.

That night we entered the subway and got off at 42nd street in order to head over to 44th where Carmine’s was located, as we started up the stairs from the station, Scott mentions the address which made Kevin and I do a double take.  2400 W Broadway, which was Broadway and 90th street.  At the moment we were on 44th st which means we were 46 blocks away.  That was a few miles from where we were at that point.

Of course like men we decided that maybe the address was wrong and went up anyway.  As it turns out, it was correct.  There was a newer Carmine’s uptown and we were in the wrong place and already fashionably late.

It ended up working out for us again.  We caught the subway up to 86th and when we arrived, food was just being served.  How long could this luck hold, right?

The dinner was fantastic and we met a bunch of really amazing people who were just as passionate about running for PKD as we were.

NYC Marathon PKD Runners NYC Marathon Carmines Table

Like good little runners we went back to the hotel and retired for the night in anticipation for the NYC Marathon the next morning.

NYC Marathon The Night Before clothes layout

As I mentioned both in the last post and in my NYC Marathon recap from last year; the logistics for this race are not the most convenient.  It involves a ferry to Staten Island then a bus to security, a decent walk to the assigned village and finally another walk to the specific corral.

An announcement came out from the NYC Marathon staff, about two months prior to sign up for transportation to the start and of course we all missed and ended up getting assigned the 5:45am ferry to Staten Island.  Since three of us had already experienced the ferry and knew that there was no accountability, we decided to just take the 7am ferry instead, not only giving us a little more time in the morning, but also keeping us out of the chilly temps for a couple of hours.

The lesson I learned here was there are two choices, either go by the scheduled time and arrive with a lot of time to spare, sit around have some coffee and bagels while waiting for the start, or go a little later and hope to make it to the corral at the time of your scheduled start.

We took the latter ferry and ended up having to wait for two ferries to get over to the island and then when finally getting on the bus, the traffic was so heavy we ended up having to rush to the corrals in order to make the 9:40 start.  It was probably perfect for the rest of the team that had later starts, but for Rich and I it was a little tight.  Personally, I do prefer the latter.

NYC Marathon Statue of Liberty from Ferry

I found my green village, dropped off my gear bag with my long sleeve shirt and pants, and headed to the corral just prior to the 9am cut-off to enter the corral.  Now I had about half-an-hour to stretch and use the portlet one last time.

I was talking to a woman from Basel, England when I heard my name being called.  Ryan Wallace, was a Facebook friend and runner I met at last year’s race.  A really fun guy to hang with, so after chatting for a bit we found we were looking at accomplishing the goal of 3:50 or better.  Score!  Someone to run with.

NYC Marathon Start Corral

In the Start Corral

They opened up the corral to head closer to the start line around 9:30am, and just after the final note to one of the most beautiful renditions of our national anthem I have ever heard, sung by opera singer (and runner) Susanna Phillips Huntington, and announcements by the executive director, the gun went off and we were running.

The NYC Marathon is the largest marathon in the world.  Largest meaning the most athletes run the course of any marathon in the world..  This year there were over 50,000 finishers.  It boasts spectacular views, fantastic support from the spectators, and a challenging course.  The route takes the runners through all five major boroughs of the city, starting in Staten Island, crossing the Verrazano Bridge to Brooklyn, heading north into Queens crossing the 59th St bridge, then into Manhattan crossing the Queensboro Bridge, north into the Bronx over the Willis Ave Bridge, turning south back into Manhattan over the Madison Avenue bridge and then finally the incline to the finish line in the heart of Central Park.

The experience this year was better than last, as the temperatures were much better as we started around 55 degrees Fahrenheit  and just a little breeze versus the 30 degree temps and 33 mph winds from 2014.

Ryan, his friend, and I started the NYC Marathon conservative for the first couple of miles, but as we rounded the first 5k I noticed we started to increase our pace.  I only was witness to it due to calculating my 5k under 27 minutes, which being under a 9 minute mile that soon, concerned me a little, but I was feeling really strong.

The spectators in the NYC Marathon are everywhere and they clap, yell and scream not only for their family and friends, but for any one they seem to be inspired by.  Statistics pretty much show, that even know there were over 50,000 athletes running this race, and hundreds of thousands of finishers in marathons all over the world, less than 1% of the population has finished a marathon.  In other words there were a lot of people to be inspired by during this race and the spectators expressed that.

NYC Marathon brad behind ryan

The Goof peeking out behind Ryan

Ryan and I ran together up to about mile nine, constantly telling each other to slow down, yet neither of us could hold a slower pace for very long.  About that point, a pressure emanating from my bladder was increasing to a point where I was just not comfortable any longer, so I speeded up to the mile 10 aid station to relieve myself.  My thinking was speed up, use the facilitates and then speed back up just enough to catch Ryan again.

Unfortunately, we didn’t cross paths again during the race.  I was out there on my own, all by myself.  It was just me and 50,000 of my closest friends.

There was plenty to see as I continued on my NYC Marathon journey.  Achilles International volunteers were out in droves this year with guides helping blind and other challenged runners through the race.  Guides would run in a formation with one tethered to the blind runner and then three-to-four others running on each side of them constantly helping to clear a path through the crowd.   It was so motivating, that I knew somewhere down the line in my own journey I would have to help like that in some way in the future.

As I crossed the 13.1 mile marker of this NYC Marathon, and saw the clock I realized that I had been running for an hour and fifty minutes.  That for me was fast, but I was still feeling really strong.  The sights of the area’s architecture, parks, people and the smells of the local restaurants were consistently keeping my mind occupied as I just let my legs decide what they were going to do.

I was concerned though.  I know enough about myself, that keeping this pace would have it’s consequences toward the final miles.

My favorite bridge on NYC Marathon course is the Queensboro bridge.  It feels like it never ends, but the view of Manhattan and the Hudson is spectacular.  Not to mention, the completion of the bridge is a u-turn with a horde of spectators that it feels like a roar of excitement is exuded from them.  I felt a boost of energy when I crossed mile 16.

I was actually a little impressed with myself as I hadn’t really slowed as of yet.  It is usually around this mile marker that begins the stiffness of the previous miles.

The next checkpoint for me is usually mile 18, but that too came and went without any real pain.  My inner dialogue started having delusions of grandeur of possibly finishing the race around the 3:40 mark which be a huge PR for me.

As I crossed the Willis avenue bridge, I felt the start of a twinge in my left leg and a smile crept across my face and out loud I said to myself,”There it is.”

The NYC Marathon mile 20 clock showed I was two hours and fifty-two minutes into the race, which was already better than last year.  My thinking at that point was that I could pretty much slow to a ten minute mile at this point and still cross under four hours, but that didn’t happen.

Mile 21 came at just three hours which was a first in a while for me.  I am usually only at 20 by three hours and here I was a full mile closer to the finish.  My period of optimism was cut short by a stiffness in my right leg that quickly became painful.

NYC Marathon Starting to hurt

I walked though the next NYC Marathon aid station and grabbed a banana from the hand of a volunteer thinking just get some more glycogen to my legs so I finish this last five miles.

What little stride I had became periods of walking between miles 22 and 23 as the pain started to sear and engulf the rest of my leg.  It was getting harder and harder to bend my right knee as the stiffness was setting in.

Central Park came and the crowds were getting louder and more dense.  I did not want to walk through the park with all these people.  I wanted to run in strong, but the pain was getting more and more intense.  I actually yelled at myself, “C’mon legs.  WTF are you doing!!!”

NYC Marathon Almost There

My mind drifted to Erika at that moment.  As I was trying to run stiff-legged and just suffer through this intense pain, I thought that this frustration and uncomfortable feeling must be what Erika feels all the time.  The disappointment at feeling run down, the pain that comes with these huge cysts on her Kidneys and the eternal uncomfortable feeling that keeps her from sleep and just enjoying life, must be one hundred times worse that what I was feeling.

If Erika had to continually go through this pain, then I could at least endure it until I reach the finish line.

I didn’t stop running, no matter how much it hurt.  I thought about Erika and the last couple of years of misery she must have been going through, and how Jennifer would also have to also have a painful times ahead through her recovery from donating a kidney.  It kept me going as I really felt like I was going through it for them.

I am not a totally idiot, I know that running the NYC Marathon of which I enjoy doing, really would do nothing for either of them.  It was the fundraising and support where we as a team were doing the most good.  Maybe it was for me.  Maybe because I was not able to donate my kidney, that I the pain I was feeling now was so that I could empathize with both of them.

NYC Marathon The Finish

The NYC Marathon finish line was just as glorious as the other marathons I have completed.  I was extremely happy to cross in 3:56 and at least beat my time from last year by about 10 minutes.

My official NYC Marathon finisher was medal handed to me, I was congratulated by a volunteer and ushered through to take continue the long mile walk to retrieve my gear bag.  I was engulfed on all four sides with athletes as we all did the marathon shuffle through the park.  There was a sense of peace and a little giddiness that filled the air.

NYC Marathon Medal FInish

We all did something extraordinary today.  Whatever the reason “why”, we were bound at that moment by the accomplishment and conclusion of a journey that started with the decision to embark, the hours of training and the final step across the NYC Marathon Finish LIne.

NYC Marathon Stepping Across the finish

Once dressed in dry clothes, I found Rich and we headed out to The Keg Room which was where Team Tampa PKD would gather back together.  As Rich and I were in the first wave, where he PR’d at an incredible time of 3:27, we arrived first.  Kevin, whom was actually in the last wave to take off, showed up next followed closely by Karen and finally Scott.  Everyone finished and accomplished what they set out to do, but I was most proud of Scott.

NYC Marathon Keg Room

Scott had micro tears in his gastrocnemius muscle (Calf) and had been trying to rehab it for the last couple of weeks.  I really didn’t think he would finish the NYC Marathon and we all told him it would have been ok if he didn’t .  He did though and under 5 hours with walking.  He also said that he felt like he didn’t feel like he did anymore damage.

NYC Marathon

Scott Bragan

I am proud of the whole team.  Team Tampa PKD was able to raise over 20,000 for PKD, finish the NYC Marathon and, most importantly, find a kidney donor for Erika.

NYC Marathon

Team Tampa PKD – (L to R) Scott Bragan, Rich O’Dea, Karen Dempsey, Brad Minus, & Kevin O’Brien

 

What kind of challenge are you partaking in or plan to journey towards?

Carpe Vitam!

Better late than never – Ironman Augusta 70.3 Recap

Better late than never – Ironman Augusta 70.3 Recap

Obviously, Ironman Augusta 70.3 is one of my favorite races, since this is the third year in a row I competed in it.  Why?

  • The 1.2 mile swim heads downstream giving those of us that are not great swimmers a little push.
  • There are two main sporting events in Augusta.  The little golf tournament called “The Masters”, and the Ironman, so the whole city seems to show up to support it.  The Ironman doesn’t have near the amount athletes or the out-of-town spectators, but it doesn’t seem like that when you are competing.
  • The 56 mile bike course is beautifully scenic with rolling hills which makes it somewhat challenging and a lot of fun.
  • The run course is two-loops around the center of town which is loaded with spectators that are cheering and holding signs with sayings like “If Triathlon was easy they would call it football.”  It gives the competitors continuous motivation through a the 13.1 mile completion to the challenge which depending on the temperature could be grueling.
  • The volunteers, all three years I have competed, have always been amazing.  There are aid stations every 10 miles on the bike and every mile on the run, so there are a huge amount of volunteers that are there for a very long time.
  • The expo and check-in have always been run very professionally and smooth.  It is probably one of the best run expos I have took part in.

The weekend started off with a caravan of amazing people up to Augusta caravan crewincluding my buddy Pete, Kari, Jaime, Kat, Chris, Kate, Matt, Jeff & Miranda.  All of them great people and athletes.

The ride up was uneventful with one stop at Cracker Barrel to fuel up and a couple of minute stops for gas and essentials.  We went right to check-in and surprise, surprise, the Marriott opened their new convention center so there was so much more space for check-in and the expo than last year.  In the past everything was in a series of rooms, now it was in one great big room that allowed for more vendors and more space to move around.  There had to be at least 50% more vendors than last year.  It was amazing.  Of course my favorite part, as always, is the atmosphere.  Super charged with excitement and enthusiasm.

After getting settled in are hotels, Chris, Jaime, Kat and I had dinner at this little restaurant of an old hotel called the Partridge Inn.  The meal was incredible, and for the first time I got to try Shrimp & Grits, which of course Jaime was astounded I had never tried.  It was really amazing.  Paleo?  Not in the least, but it was delicious.  We ended up splitting our dinners, of which mine was a 16oz prime rib that was cooked to perfection.  It was an amazing choice, indeed.   (Patrons of the hotel had much less to say of the hotel though.)

pre-transitionThe next day consisted of quick workouts, bike check-in, race prep and another awesome dinner at Charlie-O’s Steak House.  We had a much larger crowd for dinner which not only included the caravan gang, but some members of Tri-Psych as well.  It was the perfect crowd to spend the evening before the race.  Everybody was calm, cool and collected on the outside, but some pre-race anxiety seemed to be looming over all of us.

I was surprised at how well I slept that night.  I usually never sleep the night before a race.  Of course I still didn’t get eight hours, but the 6 I did was a very hard sleep.  I woke up even more refreshed than I thought.   I had the opportunity to dress, eat and be ready with time to chill out and motivate myself.

The transition area was crowding fast as usual, and since last year I had a very early start, this year I ended up more in the middle waves, so there was plenty of time, to relax and get my bike and gear ready, without feeling rushed.  As always there were plenty of people who caught up with me either from, home, past races, social media, or my blog.  It was awesome.  Race morning has to be one of my favorite times of the race, just because of the excitement and the convening with friends and acquaintances.  Those of you podium placers probably are in your own little world at this point, and it makes sense, but to a lotkat and me of us just trying to beat our past times and finish comfortably, this is a great time of the morning.

The shuttle took us to the host hotel, and as it was in the lower 50s at the time, we decided to grab some coffee and hangout in the lobby.  Finally, it was time to head over to the start, drop my “morning clothes” bag in the truck and enter my corral for the start.  I found Jaime, which calmed my nerves a bit.  He races with Team RWB of whom I am honored to call myself a part of as well, but he is much faster than I.  Usually about 20-30 minutes faster.  He is an amazing athlete, motivator and all-around person.  We only catch each other at races, but he always is able to motivate just that little bit extra.

The time came and they moved us to the dock, the

Jaime and I

gun went off and we jumped in and started swimming.  I have been working on my swimming so I adopted my rhythm as soon as possible, and found myself right with the majority of the pack the first 800m but then I fell short.  They swam past and I ended up, as usual, in the back.  Around the 1200m mark the pack behind me caught me and by time I finished, the fast women, two waves behind me, caught me.  I still ended up beating my swim time from the year before by a minute, but it was still slow.

I ran up the ramp to transition and without any incidents I grabbed my bike and headed out and just as I was about to leave transition, mother nature called and I made a quick decision to use the portlets.  I still ended up with a four-minute transition, but I was a little disappointed.  Around the three-mile mark I started to feel something new; quad burn.  I was astounded I was feeling this so soon.  Usually, it took 40 to 50 miles of hills before I felt it this bad.  I must have over-used them in the swim.  After another  fifteen minutes I took a Honey Stinger Gel prematurely and the burn subsided meaning that I must have depleted my glycogen levels just enough to feel it.  My cadence kicked up and I started passing people, and while I was still getting passed by the elite cyclists in the waves behind me, I was doing more passing than getting passed.  The hills were as I remembered and I didn’t have any issues with them until mother nature threw me a curve ball.  She added the wind.  I was thinking the whole time, I just wanted to average 20mph.  That would get me into T2 under 3 hours.  I did make it to T2 with that goal, but I fell short of my 20mph average at 19.44 mph.

0496_14422

Unfortunately, because I wanted that 20 mph so bad and I had not accounted for the wind, I spent a little more energy than I wanted and I felt in on the run.  At first I felt a little tight, but I was used to that.  In my training it took till mile three to get my legs back, so I pushed through and bided my time until then, but at mile three, the tightness didn’t go away.  As a matter of fact, the tightness never went away.  I ended up doing a run/walk of 1 mile on and sixty seconds off.  It worked but I faltered on even doing as well as I did the year before.  I was under two hours in 2012, but this year I ended up 2:05 which is the exact amount I was off my over-all time: 5:42 off from 5:36.  I cared for a while, but I assessed what I learned and what I needed to take away in order to be successful at Ironman Florida which is the ultimate goal for the year.

0496_19703

I caught up with Pete around mile 11 and we ran into the finish chute together.  Of course we were passed by Master’s champion runner, Jeff Lessie who was doing the bike and run as part of a relay.  What made it really embarrassing, was that Jeff started an hour behind us and he still caught us.  He is an amazing athlete, and when he ran passed us we thought for sure he was just on his first loop, but when we saw him in the finish area, both of us looked at each other and then down at the ground.  After a couple of nanoseconds we lifted our heads, found him and gave him a hearty congrats.  We both still did pretty well and we knew it.

0496_53023

On to the next challenge, for me, the Chicago Marathon, and for both of of us Ironman Florida, Panama City Beach.

Carpe Viam!!

 

Rev 3 Florida 70.3 Race Recap

Saturday was a phenomenal starting with watching a few of my girls PR at the Great Westchase 5k.  The night before I was contemplating going or not going, being that my race was the next day and I should really  just head to athlete check-in, get a little workout in and return to relax.  I couldn’t keep away though.  Just the thought of five of the ladies I coach at Fit2Run (my girls), having the ambition to run that morning, was enough that I just couldn’t stay away.  I really wanted to be there for them and cheer them on.

They all looked a little surprised when I arrived, but in a good way, at least I hope in a good way. I was shocked at the amount of people that showed up being that I barely ever heard of this race.  My girls, Sharon, Kim S., Molly, Sonja, and Donna were there and ready to rock and I even saw a few of them doing their prescribed warm-ups, which made me smile.  With my camera in tow, I was happy to grab a few shots, but I knew I shouldn’t run with them, but deep down I wanted to.

After the gun went off I grabbed a few action shots and raced over to the 1 mile mark, but I missed a few of them, so I just hung out about three-quarters-of-a mile from the finish and waited.  I grabbed photos of the women I saw, but I still ended up missing a couple.  When Sonja came a long I saw a certain, not pain, but concern on her face, so I decided to jump in and bring her across the finish line.  She is one of my projects, as she has been one of the few that continually asks questions, and genuinely wants to get better.  I have even put a personal plan together for her to run the Best Damn Race Half-Marathon.  She makes me so proud, as she continually gets better in more ways than one.  I brought her in, egging her to push just a little more and increase her cadence and speed.  She came across the line with a new PR and made this coach feel like the proudest papa ever.  To increase that feeling even more, I found that all of my girls PR’d and Sharon by more than four minutes which is HUGE!!

We hung around a bit and checked out the expo before I said my good-byes and started my journey south to Venice, Florida in order to Attend the Check-in for my own race.  The drive wasn’t bad from Oldsmar, around an hour-and-a-half, but it didn’t feel that long due to the radio blasting classic rock from 107.3 The Eagle.  I love that station.

When I arrived I was surprised at the organization of the check-in.  There were volunteers helping with everything to include parking.  After I received my packet and got my athlete bracelet I was told to go get my timing chip in the next shelter.  There stood two, large screen monitors with keyboards and little cameras at the top.  The staff member brought up the application where it asked for my bib number and then had all of my information loaded.  I verified it and then he coded a new chip and then took my picture.  I was curious and asked him what the picture was for and he informed me that as I would cross a mat about 200 yards from the finish, my picture would come up on a huge monitor above the finish line.  I was pleasantly surprised and excited about that.  I would probably not see it myself, but just the thought already started my heart pumping for the race.  I left that area and looked to my left and found a massage tent, and as I didn’t get a chance to see Lisa Jamison that week, I decided to check it out.  I again was surprised when I was told by the volunteer that a massage pre and post race were included in the registration.  They asked me what I was looking for and I told them I really just needed a good stretch and that is exactly what I got.  Three LMTs all took turns massaging and stretching my legs, arms and shoulders out.  This wasn’t some 20 minutes quicky rub down, this was a good 45 minute full-on stretch and it was awesome.

I caught up with Pete and Jaime after that and we all went over to get our SWAG bags, which by far was the best I had ever received.  A Headsweats visor, Blue-Seventy goggles, samples of Power bites and a new Powerbar and very little paper all tucked in a drawstring bag labeled with Muscle Milk.  The rest of the expo was pretty rudimentary, so we decided to head over to Sharkey’s for some lunch before the mandatory meeting.

The mandatory meeting brought on a surprise and a little fun.  The race director notified that due to the rough water, and the possible Red Tide warning, that it was possible that the swim would be cancelled or reversed.  What I haven’t mentioned as of yet, was that due to Hurricane Sandy, it was already very windy.  The waves in the ocean looked angry and rough.  One part of me was a little relieved, but it was outweighed by the side of me that was disappointed.  I mean I should have been excited due to the swim being my worst event, but it just wouldn’t, and later didn’t, feel like a true triathlon if the swim was cancelled.  I felt the last race of the season was going to be a huge disappointment without the swim, not to mention the high winds on the bike were also a concern.

At the end of the mandatory meeting there was a worst wet suit contest which was really entertaining.  Six athletes went onstage with really ugly wet suits, some worn, some bleached and one of the custom made was really terrible.  An athlete with this multi-colored, turquoise, purple, orange and black multicolored wet suit one by unanimous cheering and laughter by the athletes.  The top two ended up winning brand new wet suits provided by Blue-Seventy which was kinda cool for them.

I was continually impressed with Rev3 when I visited transition.  They didn’t have the rails that I was used to where the bike seat hooks underneath with just a little room to setup your bike and run gear, they had these wood boxes the ground that gave each athlete a sleeve where your bike tire was inserted allowing the bike to stand up on its own and the ease of removing it and returning it during the race, and a box for your gear and even more room between bikes.  Not to mention the little of added extra of personalizing your spot with your bib number and name printed on the box.

The rest of the night basically consisted of packing up my gear, changing an inner-tube on my bike and relaxing.  Oh, I will say one thing that the race provided that was really cool; race tattoos.  These are temp tattoos with my bib number for both arms and the back of my right hand and my age on the back of my right calf.  They looked extremely professional and were a lot easier to apply than  I thought.  Peel, stick, wet with a wash cloth and peel the back off.  Done.  I didn’t know how complicated it was going to be, so I applied them Saturday night and slept in them, and they looked just as good at 4 am when I awoke.

Pete, Jamie and I before the race

All of the athletes I knew had rented hotel rooms in Venice, but the ride was less than an hour, and I thought I would be better off sleeping in my own bed and having some solace time, prior to the race.  I was very happy I made that decision.  The ride down that early in the morning was easy and fast.  I had plenty of time to rack my bike in transition and lay out my shoes and stuff before the race.   As I walked up to transition I heard the announcer officially cancel the swim and proclaim the pros would have a 1.5 mile run prior to the bike but the age groupers would have a La Mond Time Trial start.  While the disappointment came over me I was also curious about this time trial start as I had never had that experience before.  Upon finishing I caught up with Pete and Jaime and socialized with them, Carola, Laurie, and some new friends we made.

Carola and I


Finally, after the pros finished their run and started on the bike the officials lined us up in bib order and started us at the Swim In as if we just came in from swim.  After the first athlete ran into transition they continued starting each athlete every 3 seconds.  I was bib 364 which gave me a good 5 minutes in line before I finally was started.  I ran to my bike, jumped into my shoes, put on my helmet, with clipping my chin strap, grabbed my bike and ran to the mount line.  I registered 1:37 for T1 which was ok, being that I was at the far end of my row and far from the bike out line.  The wind was howling the whole time on the bike, but luckily the first 25 miles or so had a great tail wind.  I was keeping speeds of 25-27 mph with medium effort and was feeling pretty good, even with some of the more experienced bikers passing me like I was standing still.  Even Pete caught me with his race wheels and flew by calling me to chase after him.  I kept him in sight for a good 5-6 miles until I lost him, which just at the point we turned into the wind.

It was brutal.  I never thought I could work so hard to reach speeds over 16 mph.  That is all I ended up thinking.  “No matter what I just can’t go below 16.”  It is such an arbitrary number but it sticks with me for some reason.  I just refused to go under it.  Later on this might had led to another problem, but I will get to that in a minute.  Around mile 40 there was relief of about four miles, but even that was quickly defeated by turning back into the 20 mph headwinds that plagued us all on the back half of the course.  After mile 20 I wasn’t really passed again, however I was doing my fair share of passing which was nice ego boost.  I caught up to Jaime who started 260 people in front of me and even Blaine who was ahead of me by 100 or so.  I was feeling pretty good in that arena, but I just couldn’t catch Pete.  I tried though.

When I got back into transition I was noticing a little pain in the arch of my right foot.  I never felt that before, so I just shrugged it off, but when I returned my bike it’s sleeve in transition, and donned my running shoes, I felt this sharp pain in my foot like I was running with a nail stuck in the ball of my right foot.  I seriously thought I somehow broke my foot.  I left transition within 90 seconds only to end up sitting on the curb howling in agony at the pain in my foot.  I took off my shoe, massaged it and started rolling it over the curb and the pain was so intense tears started welling up, and not just due to the actual pain, but for the brief thought I might DNF.  I said to myself, forget it, I am going to finish this thing if I have to hop the 13.1 miles and crawl across the finish line.  I put back on my shoe and started to run slowly.  I was so relieved when the pain started to disappear.  I didn’t quite have my legs after the bike, but at least my foot wasn’t broken and hopefully the pain would subside completely and soon.

Digressing back when I first entered transition, Pete yelled at me as he had just crossed the timing mat, to come and catch him.  Well, even after hanging out for a bit, I caught him before the first mile marker.  He was hurting pretty bad and I was hoping he was alright.  We stopped for a minute to stretch and then we walked and then ran for a bit.  Just about the first mile marker Pete cramped up really bad and he just shouted for me to go on and even after I doubled back to make sure he was all right, he shooed me away so I ended up back in familiar territory; alone or alone as one can be in a race with 500 athletes.

My legs were still a little stiff, but they slowly loosened up.  When I hit the second aid station, I grabbed some water, but at the third station I walked through it grabbing water and Pepsi washing down a Honey Stinger gel along with it.  Interestingly enough, I had just recently found that Coke or a cola of any kind, really helps during a triathlon run.  Not as much in a fresh run, but in a triathlon it sends a bolt of sugar right to the glycogen stores and seems to give me this little lift, just enough to make me feel like I can push a little harder.  Problem is, it is short lived, but combined with the right other source of sugar it can keep me going for at least a couple of miles until I hit another aid station.  That ended up being my strategy.  Walk through every other aid station grabbing water and coke(Pepsi) until I got to the last garbage can and they I started running again.

The run was two loops with this two mile, out-and-back concrete trail along a canal.  That was the part I wasn’t happy about.  First, it felt like it would go on forever and second it was concrete and I could feel the impact.  I adjusted the best I could by lifting my knees and landing as softly as possible, but it just wasn’t enough because I could feel it in my legs at times.  On the long canal trail I saw Jaime on my left after the turn-around, and it didn’t seem like she was that far behind me and then I passed by Blayne who was looking really strong.  They both inspired me to push a little harder.  I was feeling stronger at the start of the second loop so I started to lean from my ankles a little more and raise my cadence.  The second loop seemed a lot shorter than the first, not that I wasn’t terribly thrilled when I saw a sign “Half Mile to Go”.  I powered through that last 800 meters passing two other athletes in my age group.  About 100 meters prior to the finish line I heard in a huge booming voice, “And from Tampa Florida, Brad Minus coming down arms wide looking like a champ.”  I was ecstatic, exhausted and in a lot pain.  The pain in my legs was terrible.  I knew it was a soreness from the race, but it was a pain a little more intense than normal.   A handler walked me through as I was awarded my finisher medal and handed a Gatorade and a water, making sure I was stable.  After I assured him I was fine he took my chip, told me congratulations and pointed out the amenities for the finishing athletes.  I wanted to wait for Jaime, but I knew if I didn’t get someone to work on my legs before I cooled down entirely I was going to be in even more pain later, so I headed for the massage tent.

I didn’t have to wait long til I was lead to a table where a Chiropractic student named Marceia, worked me over.  In other races and even while watching some of the other volunteer massage therapists work over other athletes I usually see a cookie cutter approach to working on athletes.  Meaning, like an assembly line, athletes are brought in each one is worked on in the exact same way.  I only say Marceia work on the athlete prior to me and I was wondering if it was going to be the same way.  I was so delighted when it wasn’t.  She continued to ask me about my soreness and pain levels as she worked on me, and she was even using the same techniques that Lisa uses with me and even better, she did nothing to me that was even similar to the athlete prior to me.  This woman had instincts and they were good ones.  When I got off the table I was still a little sore but I felt 90% better.  Thank you Marceia wherever you are.

I heard Jaime cross while I was waiting and by the time I finished my massage I saw Pete from a distance come across, so we were all in at this point.  Chris and Fallon had come to watch and pleasantly surprised me by staying for the entire race.  I am so impressed with Revolution 3 and everything they had available.  It was actually possible to cross the finish line and walk right over to the results tent, type in your bib number and immediately check all of your splits, and since it was web based anyone who is tracking an athlete was able to receive real-time information.  The very second an athlete crosses a timing mat, anyone in the world could see the time if they are on the web page.  The last few Ironman races I have either watched or competed in, my followers have told me the lag could have been up to an hour after the split was crossed.

Jamie, Pete and I afterwards

After, some pics and some socializing we checked our times and awesomely found that Jaime had placed in her age group.  While looking at the computer it looked as though she had taken third, but when she was actually called for second place during the awards ceremony.  Congrats Jaime!

I ended up breaking the 5 hour mark at a final time of 4:59.13 with 2:49 bike and a 2:06 half marathon, so I was happy with my performance.  If there was a swim, I probably would have come in right around the same as Augusta, and I was glad for that.

This ends my triathlon season.  I am in the midst of planning my off season and I have already titled it, S3F.  Speed, Strength, Swim & Flexibility.  I plan on working on my speed on the bike and the run, adding some endurance strength especially in my back and arms in order to increase speed in the water, doing more work in the pool on my form to try and relax and reduce my time in the water and increase my flexibility to protect my back and lengthen my stride and stroke.  I am planning on competing in Tough Mudder in December with the A-Train, probably doing the Clearwater Marathon and maybe a couple of other short races just to keep my edge a little, before the first race of my season which at this point will be St. Anthony’s in April 2013.

Carpe Viam!