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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Goof Review: Outspokin’ Bicycles-Tampa

Goof Review: Outspokin’ Bicycles-Tampa

A couple of months ago, I was lucky enough to catch the first sign of my favorite bike store coming to Tampa.  At the time the stand-alone store was completely gutted without any sign of what it was going to look like.  Last week, after the store opened I was privileged to get my first look.  In the past I had to visit the Clearwater store strategically around training and races in the area.  Now, I am finally able to have the service and quality I enjoy, quite a bit closer to home.  What I didn’t expect, when I wandered in for the first time, was the bike store of my dreams. Outspokin has everything that could possibly be needed, and/or wanted, by bicycle enthusiasts and triathletes.

As owner, Val Tavanese, gave me the tour, she explained this location is the store she always dreamed of opening, because it had all the services, products and amenities that she personally wanted for in a bike shop.  The reason I continue to make the trip to 35 mile trip to Clearwater is not just because it is the location where I purchased my own Cervelo P2, but it is because Val and her team have always continued to provide top tier service and expert advice when I needed it.  Val assured me she is determined to continue the same tradition here in Tampa.

Enough of my praise and rhetoric, let’s get to the gears and chains of this amazing store.

Right outside the entrance double doors sits a nice table and chairs that providing a shady spot to relax after a long bike ride.  Walking into the sliding door you immediately see the front desk with smiling Outspokin team members surrounded by by bright colors and cycling accessories of all kinds.

Outspokin signFront SignFront Door View

Cycling manufacturers enforce their own rules and guidelines for retailers carrying their line of product.  Most cycling lines will only allow retailing of their product within a certain distance between stores carrying the same line.  For example, Cervelo only allows a store to carry their product within a 50 mile radius another bicycle shop in order to keep the shops from competing with one another.  Outspokin Tampa is carrying three amazing retail lines in Road, Cyclecross, Mountain, and touring bikes; BMC, Giant and Scott.

BCMGiantScott

What sets Outspokin apart from most bike specialty stores is their services.  The most important service, in my opinion, is maintenance.  Bike parts wear out, cyclists fall, and a good portion of the time adjustments need to be made do to change in technique, training regimen or even transport of the bike itself.  Outspokin has always had a great team of mechanics, and they need some room to work in right?  Well, the mechanics bay in the Tampa store is immense and Val has outfitted all of her maintenance team with a complete new set the tools necessary to assemble, repair and adjust their customers equipment without any sacrifice to quality.

Maintenance Tools Fixing

The next superior service is fitting.  In my experience, fitting the bike to the person is crucial for comfort, power and speed, especially in a road and triathlon bikes.  Outspokin spares nothing when it comes to fitting.  The fitting room is outfitted with the Retul system including Muve bike accessory.  Retul is a complete system for measuring every length, and angle of the rider to the bike which determines the athlete’s personalized adjustments.  For instance, when a riders leg is extended to the very bottom of the pedal, there is an optimum angle for the knee to be bent.  This system will measure the distance of the seat post and calculate what the precise height and the horizontal position of the seat is optimal in order to achieve that angle.

The Muve bike accessory to the Retul system allows for quick changes to those measurements which then can be transferred to their bike.  When I was fitting utilizing the Retul service, the Muve bike was not available, so for every change in angle I had to dismount and the technician had to pull those parts off my bike and replace them at the right measurement.  With the Muve bike, when the angles change the tech can adjust with the rider still on the bike.  This makes those adjustments faster and more accurate, because the computer will provide the adjusted angles and measurements as the tech is making those adjustments in real-time.

Two more advantages to do a fitting with Retul, are all of the adjustments are saved in Outspokin’s database, so when doing routine maintenance the techs can re-assemble the bike with the personalized adjustments.  Also, when cyclists travel with their bike it needs to be partially disassembled.  A print out of the angles and measurements can be placed with the bike, so either the rider or a mechanic can reassemble the bike without sacrificing personal comfort or performance.  What about those customers shopping for a bike and really have no idea what brand or geometry is best for them?  If a Retul analysis is completed, the measurements can be compared in a database that will then determine the line and models that will be the best fit for comfort, power and speed for that individual.  Pretty cool, am I right?

FittingRetul

Do you want to ride in the morning, but it is raining, cold or you just do not have the time to drive out to a safe place to get a good workout in?  Outspkin to the rescue with their CompuTrainer room.  Eight CompuTrainers are connected to a HDTV and will allow you and a few of your fellow cyclists the ability to ride a stage of the Tour de France, or the bike course of the Lake Placid Ironman on your own bike.  The CompuTrainers have the ability to add or remove resistance matching the elevation of the course as you are looking at the screen which is projecting exactly the point of view as if you were actually riding the course.  Pretty Sweet, right?  Outspokin makes it sweeter by providing showers, so you can ride that stage of the Tour and still make it to work that morning.  Tampa to France and back in time for work. (It is almost like transporter rooms were finally invented.)

Computrainer room Computrainer Room Shower

These are just a couple of services that are being provided.  Other services that are coming soon include in-store Lactate Threshold and VO2 Max Testing.

I am thrilled to be able to give such a glowing review to Outspokin.  I hope you get a chance to visit soon and take advantage of all the products and services they are offering.

Outspokin’s Grand Opening is this weekend, March 15 & 16th, and there will be plenty of events and vendors at the Tampa location, so check out the store, take a look at some the products vendors will be carrying and take a test ride on a new bike.  Oh, and tell them you heard about it from the IronGoof. Maybe, just maybe they will reward you for it.

A place to relax, and for the kiddiesEveryone Loves ShoesMultiple Ironman Triathlete Celeste at your service.

www.Outspokin.net

Carpe Viam!!!

 

Gasparilla Goof:  A Recap

Gasparilla Goof: A Recap

Since I have been an endurance athlete in the Tampa Bay Area for a few years, I have always felt a pull toward the Gasparilla Distance Classic.  This last weekend was no different.  I had the intention of possibly hanging out on the sidelines this year, but the attraction of the race and the fact that all of my racing “peeps” would be there, lured me to enter the Becks Light Challenge which consisted of the 15K, the 5k and the ever loved Half Marathon.  There is another level to the challenges named the Michelob Ultra Challenge which includes all of the races in Becks Light Challenge plus the 8k, but I know myself well enough that after a half marathon the last thing I was going to want to do was run another 5 miles so I decided against it this year.  Maybe next year.

The Expo

Photo by Ben Mena

Anchor Hottie Falon Silcox at the expo

The expo was pretty much the same as it always is.  I enjoy being around it, and seeing my fellow running buddies, getting some samples, seeing the new shoes that are out and tasting the new products.  Unfortunately, I was a little late this year, so I didn’t have the allotted time I would usually, but I did spend some time with Pearl Izumi rep, Kyle, and tried on their new product, The E:Motion Tri.  Kyle mentioned it had only been available for five days at that point and after a little schmoozing I think I may have finagled a pair, of which I will review at a different time.

The race included over 27,000 entries this year, and with muli-race entries the estimates stated there were about 23,000 unique entries, which I consider to be an amazing turnout. I was pretty excited to be participating the next day, however I let the energy of the social part of running get the better of me and I did not eat very well that day or that night.  I ended up paying for it the next day.

The 15K

Photo by Ben Mena

I woke up at 4:30a and took care of morning routines and ate a banana with almond butter which is usually all I need for a workout that is only 9.3 miles.  Jumped in the car and headed off to the race.  I found a nice spot, behind Publix and since they were sponsoring the event I didn’t think they would mind.  It was a nice little hike to the start line from there, so it was perfect  to warm-up and get the blood moving.  I had plenty of time, so I hung with Dawn Peters, and saw a few others in the corrals while I was continuing to warm up a more thoroughly.  Peculiar thing I didn’t mention earlier.  In Tampa, there was a power outage in the water treatment plant because a squirrel chewed through the lines.  This caused a water distress warning for all of the areas that received their water from the City of Tampa for 72 hours.  We were told to drink bottled water or boil our water before drinking it.  The announcer was assuring us, the water served was bottled from Zepherhills and the mixed Gatorade also used the bottled water.  I caught myself wondering how much of the water, I used to brush my teeth with, made it into my system.

There was a great rendition of our national anthem sung acapella followed by the blast of the start horn.

I started feeling really good and I was charging hard at about 7:31 pace as I hit miles 1, 2 and 3.  My legs were fine, my breath was under control and I just kept saying to myself; “Self, you know you have another 5k you have to do today followed by a half-marathon tomorrow don’t you?”, but the energy of the race ran away with me (pardon the pun).

At mile 4 I started to slow down and at mile 5 my whole race fell apart.  Here I was, on my own training ground, turning the corner and heading for home, and I felt dizzy, my legs were not feeling great, and I was slowing to a crawl.  I walked for a bit, trying to clear the toxins the lactic acid was ridding my muscles of, and motivate myself to finish this thing.  I couldn’t believe I was falling apart this early.  Just two weeks prior I slowed but at the 9 mile mark, so I thought I would at least be able to get through this race and shuffle through the 5k, but here I was at mile 5 and completely crashing.  I kept saying to myself  “The mind will quit 10 times before the body does.  This is not your body, you goof, this is your mind.”  I started again, with the expectation to keep running no matter how slow and just finish.  Athletes, that I run with at track that are in groups below me started to pass.  My friend Rich, whom has been just lifting and bulking up past me with a motivational pat on the shoulder.  I couldn’t believe this was happening.  I checked my posture, looked at my placement, leaned into a comfortable position and picked up my cadence, allowing for maximum efficiency and pushed on with everything I had left.  At the 9 mile mark, as is tradition, I put everything I had in the last third-of-a-mile and sprinted across the line.  I literally felt like I had nothing left.

I took pictures with the pretty pirates and was lucky enough to see a few of my clients whom were running the 5k about an hour later.  I was so drained I was seriously contemplating just cutting out of the 5k altogether, but that little jingle went off in my head.  It actually used to be an old Hefty Bag commercial that started with a little squeaky infantile voice; “Wimpy, Wimpy Wimpy.” Of course the actual commercial continues with a loud, strong, low and bold voice; “Hefty Hefty Hefty!”, but that part was missing in my head.  I decided that 3 miles was not a big deal as long as I can get some fuel up a little, so I journeyed on to find some food.

This was the only disappointing portion of the Gasparilla Distance Weekend.  Every other year I have participated in this race the vendors are lined up in the tunnel with fruit, beverages, smoothies, rice and beans, sandwiches  bagels the works, but this year it was cut to bananas, fruit cups, granola bars and sample smoothies.  I was a little disappointed, but I ate a couple of bananas, gulped a couple of smoothies, headed back to the start line.

The 5k

Photo by Ben Mena

Two races DONE!

As my readers know, I am not the fastest runner by any means, but usually fast enough to be in the front corral.  This year because I really wasn’t feeling it, I put myself in the middle of the front corral.  What I didn’t realize, was because there were only two corrals, the 9am and the 9:45a, there were a lot more people.  After another rendition of our national anthem, which was just as good as earlier, the horn blew and we were off.  Again.  Or, so it seemed because even though I crossed over the start mat  I was still walking.  19,000 runners in-between the two corrals, and here I was in the middle of the first one.  After 400 meters I heard the announcer mention that five minutes had gone by since the start.  I heard my own voice cry out, “What? Five minutes? Already?”  Embarrassingly enough, I was talking to myself.  I started weaving through the crowd the best I could and finally around the half way point it opened up enough to get some speed going.  I was still spent, but the food I consumed filled my glycogen levels enough to finish the race.   My time was a dismal 26 minutes and change, but I was happy I did it.

After the race- Saturday

Photo by Ben Mena

Original Bootcamp Buds – Rich and Kevin

Photo by Ben Mena

Alesandra and former neighbor Barbara

After completing the ritualistic medal photos, walking, stretching, and chatting I caught up with Rich O’Dea and we headed to Four Green Fields for a couple of beers.  Everyone I knew was there, so the place was hoppin’.  The Tues-Thursday Starbucks run peeps were there, Progressive Run, Four Green Fields, A-Train, Shark runners, and of course Mrs. Jessica Glover behind the bar on deck.  She was incredibly busy  but smiling and gabbing away.  I chatted for a while, met some new runners, saw some old friends like Malynn Nguyen who I haven’t seen since the 2011 Ironman, and just basically hung out and had a great time.  It was a nice ending to a couple of difficult races for me.

I realized that I in no way was I talking myself out of running the Half Marathon the next day, so I devised a strategy on the way home.  I needed a way to fuel and feel as fresh as possible, so I stopped on the way home and grabbed a couple of bags of ice.  What for?  An ice bath.  I never actually indulged in an ice bath, but I have read over and over the advantages to them, one of them being rapid recovery and that, is what I needed in order to get through the next day.  When I arrived home I grabbed a Coke, which would help top off my glycogen levels, ate some chicken breast and broccoli, and headed for my ice bath.  Since I never actually took one of these before I knew that it would be torture if I just filled the tub with ice and water and jumped in, so I ran some barely luke warm water and got in.  Slowly, I moved the water to cold and it rose above my legs and found myself getting used to the temperature.  I then slowly started adding ice, and the temperature started to drop a little more rapidly, but not so much where it became too uncomfortable.  I dropped the last bag of ice in and waited my 20 minutes.  I have to say, it wasn’t that bad, since I allowed my body to acclimate.  I am not saying it was comfortable, the ice remained frozen after all, and it was touching my skin, but I could handle it.  After 20 minutes I jumped out and into a hot shower which was absolute heaven.  I assessed how I felt and noticed that my legs felt somewhat rejuvenated  but the test would be the next day, both waking up and running the half marathon.

The Half Marathon

I woke up the next morning and was feeling pretty good.  My legs were a little tight, but not bad.  I cleaned up a bit, donned my new IronGoof racing singlet and headed out to Jet City to meet up with Jessica, Cheryl, Carol and Tara Lee.  That was a nice way to start the morning.  Jessica, made us triple espressos and we headed to the start line, for the last time.  We made a quick stop at the Team RWB tent to pick up some more runners and take some pictures.

Team RWB prior to the Half

Team RWB is one of my favorite Veteran charities.  Being a Veteran myself and an ambassador, I am connected with their cause to help veterans with “invisible” injuries incorporate themselves back into civilian life through athletic endeavors.  Invisible injuries would be, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder(PTSD), biological-chemical treated injuries, Combat Stress, and other psychological and physiological issues and disorders.  As I was there, I understand more than the average person how critical this cause is, because for every injury and casualty of war there are over 25 invisible injuries affecting Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, Coast Guard, and DOD contractors.

Photo by Ken Mersereau

Jessica Glover and I slow during the first mile

We lined up with the rest of the pack for the Half Marathon, listened to a repeated acapella version of the Star Spangled Banner, and after the horn went off for the last time for me, we started shuffling to the start line.  As with the 5k, there were a huge amount of runners for this race, so it took a while to find a way to break free.  The first mile was around eleven minutes, because we had to stop twice due to the foot traffic moving towards Davis Island.  The second mile was not much better at around 10 minutes, but the third is where it started to spread out a little at the end which ended up pacing around a 9:30 minute per mile.  I was already way way behind schedule to even come close to the time I completed a couple of weeks earlier at the Rock n’ Roll half marathon.  Once I was able to move, I did so, and sped through miles 4 – 8 between 7:30 and 8 minute miles.    I felt absurdly confident and noticed the difference in my energy level since I made sure to fuel the night before, more adequately.  Unfortunately, the tole I took on my body the prior day, decided to rare it’s ugly head as I passed the mile 9 marker.

All of the sudden my legs felt heavy, my breathing became more labored and even though I was adamant about my nutrition during the course, I slowed to a pace just above a 10 minute mile.  I couldn’t believe it as my watch started alerting me after each of the last few miles.  When i finally reached the finish line with nothing left, I was just hopeful that I was under two hours or my ego was going to take a huge blow.  As I stumbled through the medal line, grabbed some water and Gatorade, I checked my Garmin’s history for my unofficial time.  1:59:17.  My slowest non-triathlon half marathon in two years.

Photo by Denise Mestanza- Taylor

Bloggers Beth, Denise and Chrissy with Nick Z & I

The after race activities included pictures in the VIP tent with members of the Brandon Running Association to include lovelies; Beth “B.o.B.” Shaw, Fallon “News Channel 8 Morning Anchor Hottie” Siilcox and Patricia ” Bring my own changing tent” Rossi, good friends; Ben “The Lazy Runner” Mena, Nick “Best Damn Race” Zivolich, Tim “You will never look this good” Schubert, and Chris “You can’t touch this” Wiegner.  Of course there were others I cannot remember due to the fact the blood was not pooling in my brain at the time.  After I chatted, drank and posed, I left for Jet City where I continued my socializing over fresh Mimosa’s made with love by Jessica.

As I drove home I reviewed the race and what the heck happened to make it so rough.  I do not like excuses, so the fact that I am a little older, it was humid or the course was boring are not ideas I choose to partake in, but problems I personally created I can learn from.

  • I did not fuel properly Friday night.  I know better.
  • I had not been putting any real distance in my recent workouts.  I had been doing less distance and more interval training.
  • I know I have been losing a lot of weight without trying and not feeling as energetic as usual lately and refused to address it. 

My intentions to address these mistakes are:

  • Revert back to being more responsible the night before race day. 
  • Obviously, put my longer distance runs back in while keeping a couple of interval workouts. – Lesson Learned: There is no substitute for distance.
  • I am incorporating a couple of whole, wheat free, grains back into my diet.  Specifically, Gluten Free Organic Oatmeal and Quinoa, to see if I can get my energy and weight back up. 

How were your races and/or workouts this weekend?

Carpe Viam!

The Saturday/Sunday Supporter

What does it feel like to come across the finish line of any race with the support of the race volunteers and spectators?   Personally it is a pretty good feeling.  What does it feel like with the support of fellow racers, family, and/or friends?  My emotions tend to be more positively charged, and to a much higher level.  Endurance sports tend to be a little lonely during races anyway, so the support level on the course may even be a determining factor on the outcome of an athlete’s personal race.  How do you feel when you have friends and family at a race versus when you don’t?

I had the honor of being support crew for two races this weekend.  The first was the culmination run for the last session of my Fit2Run 5k group.  The race was Saturday Morning, in Dunedin, at the Our Lady of Lourdes 5k.  I really enjoy having my students at these smaller racers.  Not only does it give them the experience of the race, but it also allows them the opportunity to stand on the podium.  This race, we had an age group winner within my circle.  To no surprise Linda Shutt again took 1st place in her age group even after being out for a small injury.

The course was a little tougher than I expected, but a good experience for my runners.  It was a trail run, that included soft soil, grass, and even sand, so for some of my runners these posed a couple of new challenges.   If you want to know the truth, the marking of the race was a challenge for me as I actually wound up lost on the course and ended up completing a 10k instead.  (Pause for laughter)  Luckily my girls, and Carl,  all came across the finish line smiling and a couple with Personal Records.  If you enjoy small races with a couple of small challenges, check out Our Lady of Lourdes Annual 5k Run.

Tanner, Jessica and Cheryl before the Swim start

On Sunday the first TriRock series triathlon was in Clearwater with the start and finish lines at Pier 60.  Overall, I thought the race was run very well, and seemed well organized for an inaugural race.  The weather was perfect in my opinion.  A little chilly in the morning, with it rising to just under 80 degrees by the finish of the race.  I had three Tri-Peeps running, Tanner Stevens, Cheryl Henderson and Jessica Glover.  This was to be Jessica’s first Olympic, so all of our eyes were on her, not to mention her positive attitude is completely intoxicating and endearing.  You may remember Jessica from my Jet City posting as she is the owner and operator of my favorite coffee hang-out.

Jessica Rocking out on the Run

The race has two distances an Olympic, or as they call it, Intermediate (1500m swim, 25 mile bike, and 10k run) and a Sprint (600m swim, 13 mile bike, 5k run).  All of my friends competed in the intermediate distance, because all of three of them are pretty experienced in all three events.  The race started with music from live bands which only enhanced the energy radiating from the voices of the announcers.  It was the typical mad rush for the athletes to setup their transition equipment, dawn their wet suits and head over to the swim start.  One of the announcers sung the National Anthem, and I was very impressed as it was sung acapella.  As a performer I understand how difficult a piece the Star Spangled Banner is and I was incredibly impressed with his version.   He sang with a bluesy undertone but with a rock attitude.  By the audience reaction I would say it was a success.  In my opinion it was at least better than Steven Tyler version during the AFC Championships earlier this year.

There were a few waves for each distance with the Sprint starting 15 minutes after the last Intermediate wave with the swim being an outer and inner loop.  The finishers did cross in some instances, but the finish line was wide enough to accommodate both.  I didn’t see any issues with transition as it was large enough to handle all of the equipment and runners of turf were actually put down for the athletes bare feet.  (Note to any Triathlon Race Directors reading:  This small detail adds a huge comfort to athletes.  Just sayin’.)  The entrances and exits were clearly marked and even with the two distances using the same course, there was not a lot of crowding.  As a spectator I did enjoy the run being an out-and-back south and then north as well.  I was able to see my friends twice on the run before the finish.

I didn’t explore too much, but the expo looked small, but loaded with great vendors, the beer tent was sponsored by Red Hook which is pretty decent, and the headlining band was an AC/DC cover band, which for me was perfect.  Being a child of the 80’s has it’s perks, obviously.

Overall , I was impressed with the event.  I actually wished I would have been able to compete in it, but I enjoyed being there to support.  Out of our little group we did end up with Tanner on the podium for third place in the 25-29 age group at a time of 2:24:16.  With a possibility of two IMs next year I do not believe I am going to be able to compete next year either, but if I have friends that decide to compete I will make sure to be here again.

Athletes, Support and the Goof
Carpe Viam!


Albeit Augusta Part I

There is on aspect of competing in triathlon that is consistent among all courses, distances and brands; racing is lonely.  Obviously, during the swim it is hard enough to breathe let alone talk.  USAT regulations state that you keep four bike lengths between competitors unless one is passing and even at that point it must be done in 20 seconds, so accept for a “hey”, “hello” or an “on your left” there is not much conversation going on there.  The run can be more interactive, but after a long swim and bike, most competitors are already hypoxic or have a certain aerobic pace that doesn’t allow for a lot conversation their either.  It does happen though where athletes find new connections or meet with old and finish the run together, but it is rare, at least from what I have seen.  The common denominator is the people whom you share the race experience with, or the support that accompanies you.  After some logistics issues otherwise cancelled some of my support and fellow athletes, I was still fortunate enough to be surrounded by a small group of A-Trainers that made the entire experience a memory that will not fade.

On Friday we met up at Celeste’s home which was centrally located and began the caravan up to Georgia.  We started with three suv’s and a car with seven athletes.  Most of knew each other from other races and workouts, so the dynamic of the group was anxious but friendly.  The ride down was full of group texting, slight a couple of rather “adventurous” maneuvers, the lost and found of some of the caravan, but all-in-all safe and successful.

Luckily, we arrived early enough to drive to the expo and check-in, providing us the option of sleeping a little longer in the morning without the inconvenience of long lines which are typical to this race.  I was mentioning to one of my cohorts, that the previous year we arrived at check-in at 6am, coffee in hand, so we were in a prime spot when the activities started at 7.  I enjoyed this experience much more as there were no lines and even the expo was fairly empty enough to allow us to shop for any possibly extras we may need or want for the race.  Of course after an eight hour drive, unpacking gear, checking-in and shopping we were all tired and hungry.  We decided to walk down Broad Street, the main downtown strip, and see some of the nightlife on our way to Mellow Mushroom.  The thought of pizza from Mellow Mushroom made Celeste and myself excited with anticipation, but unfortunately, when we arrived there was a long wait and the other places we discovered just did not have the selection the group needed.  Even splitting up, Celeste and I picking up the pizza, while Beth, Bruce, Chris and Jessica retrieved the cars from the hotel proved to allot too much time between eating and allowing sleep to overcome us.  On the way back to the hotel, we settled on the next best choice which was have another pizza joint deliver food while we headed back.  The conversation seemed to stay on the race, sleeping and television while we plowed through two pizzas and 20 wings, which were actually a lot hotter than I expected, before we all finally retired for the night.

Saturday, brought on another level of excitement, renewed energy and the freedom of knowing the only task we needed to accomplish was to stow our bikes in transition for the next day’s big event.  I set the alarm for 7 o’clock thinking that would be the latest I slept in a while, but nevertheless my eyes popped open at 6:30 wide awake and ready for the excitement of the day.   Amy, my coach, had planned for me to do 15 minutes of each event as a precursor to the following day, however, emails had been sent from Ironman, announcing no swimming in the river would be allowed prior to race day. Swimming the day before the race is usually used to double check the wet suit and understand the conditions of the body of water.  For me this was not a big deal, as I had already completed the race the year prior, but it could have been for the rest of the group of whom not only was this the first time competing in Ironman Augusta, it was also their very first 70.3 distance triathlon ever.  With all of set on that fact, a few of us headed out for a run, which was surprisingly hilly, but interesting and fun due tot he southern cultural differences and the rare sighting of a fox.  Afterwards, we grabbed our bikes and headed out the opposite way and ended up in a very nice neighborhood with a couple of steep climbs.  I was grateful for that in order to test my bike, which had been recently pulled apart, cleaned tuned and re-assembled, and my legs.  Everything seemed to be in working order which pleased me just fine.

After a shower, a hearty breakfast, compliments of the Comfort Inn, and a quick jaunt to the bike store, we all loaded up our bikes and headed back to transition and race headquarters to drop our bikes in transition and explore the expo one last time.  Transporting our bikes to transition was uneventful with the exception that as we walked our bikes to transition, we noticed athletes with wet suits coming up out of the water.  When we inquired about it, they had no idea that there was an email warning of the disqualification if swimming in river prior to the race.  As a matter of fact the athletes we did talk with all mentioned the overabundance of people that were actually swimming, of which was confirmed by our own eyes.  We were all a little disappointed about that, however we shook it off not allowing it to crush our “high” of pre-race emotions.

Something I said to Chris, as we were walking into the expo that afternoon, may explain my last statement.  I expressed to him that I enjoyed the events of race weekend almost as much as the race itself.  The positive energy of all the athletes there to compete, seems to quell and increase allowing everyone to share in it.  Every expo I have attended from 5k races, marathons and mud runs to half and full Ironman triathlons, they all have never disappointed with the positive aura and energy collected and passed by runners, athletes and support staff.  It is one of my favorite parts of the weekend and this expo was just as exciting.

After buying a sample pack of a new natural energy drink called Zip Fizz, which tastes like grape and orange soda by  the way, I was walking back to the main hall when I saw someone I have been wanting to meet for a long time.  He was not only someone I had read about in countless articles but he was a friend of Lisa Jamison, my extraordinary massage therapist and friend.  This gentlemen did something that would be a first and would motivate a whole new generation of people to overcome the obstacles in their life and challenge themselves to live up to their own dreams.  Scott Rigsby, was the first double amputee to complete the Ironman World Championships in Kona, and I believe the first to finish a full Ironman period.  I was elated to meet Scott and I was shocked to watch him stand up and sit down as he was signing posters and books.  He moved up and down smoother than a lot of people I know whom have natural legs.  After a few words of conversation, a picture and him signing his book for me, I realized why he was so successful.  They guy just oozes positive mental attitude and strength.  Somehow, I believe that whether or not he lost his legs he would have still found a way to be a role model for people.  I wish I would have had the chance to read his book prior to the expo and would have been able to talk with him more about it.

Incredibly, I walked into the main hall and right there was another guy I admired.  John Pyle.  A vet whom had ran across America, flag in hand, for wounded veterans everywhere.  I had talked with John before where I coach at Fit2Run, and even then I noted his air of strength.  John is a little more grounded then Scott, not to mention a little older.  He reminds me of that guy in the motorcycle movies whom hangs out in the biker bars but is not part of the gang.  The character whom always ends up getting hit over the head with something on accident and then ends up taking out the whole gang.  Very cool, positive, respectful and passionate about his cause, but to be on his bad side seems like somewhere I would not want to be.

I completed my purchases and I headed to the hotel restaurant because I was starving.  I didn’t want anything to heavy because of our dinner plans that night, but I needed a snack and Bonk Breakers, Honey Stinger Waffles or any other race supplement was not going to do it for me.  As I sat at the bar, the beer taps floated past my field of vision and my mouth started to water.  Really?  I wanted a beer?  Now?  “Well, you only live once”, I thought to myself.  Thinking about my friend Dom (whom conquered the Chicago Marathon while stopping in the middle for a beer), I ordered a Guiness, and the Salmon with vegetables and it was awesome.  It was even plated beautifully.  While I was eating a very interesting couple sat down next to me.  The wife was an Xterra triathlete and trail runner hopefully bound for the World Championships and he was doing his first 70.3 the next day.  The dynamic had them supporting each other for races, but never doing the same race.  After the pleasantries and initial info gathering the conversation turned to running where I was impressed to hear after a long career of running she had started focusing on a new form to help her run more efficiently.  Was this a sign?  Running form is what I teach, coach and mentor athletes on and love doing so, and this athlete just so happens to let me know she has been looking at changing her form.  Kismet!  Of course as always I mentioned the group I coach at Fit2Run, my back story of how I became a form advocate, my results and then proceeded to ask her about her experiences changing her form and what she was looking to do.  We right on the same wavelength and she even asked my my opinion on a couple of things.  Needless to say, it was an outstanding feeling.

We called ahead to Carraba’s because of course most of the triathlete world wants pasta to carb load the night before.  Being on a 90% paleo diet I now forgo the pasta rituals and more prefer meat and vegetables.  I had a combo of steak marsala, chicken brian and vegetables with a couple of glasses of sangria to help me sleep.  It was perfect and the fact we did not wait for anything made it even better.  So, it was back to the hotel, to double check the gear, lay out clothes for the next day and off to bed.

My race night ritual usually always includes the following; lay out my gear, go over the race in my head to include transitions and nutrition, pack everything up, double check my list one more time, lay out my clothes bib, shoes, hat and glasses in some odd way, take a picture, post it to Facebook, set my alarm and do whatever I can to get to sleep.  The latter is the hard part.  I end up so anxious that I do not usually drift off for a couple of hours.  This night was no exception except I made a small error that revealed itself way too late.

My eyes popped open the next morning and I was ready for the day.  The alarm hadn’t gone off so I thought there was no problem with just lying around for a bit to get my bearings.  As I turned over, to turn off the alarm, my eyes cleared up on the face of the clock; 4:25am it read.  WHAT??? 4:25?? I was supposed to be up at 3:30 so I had an hour to gear myself up for the race before I was supposed to be downstairs at 4:30am.  SON OF A MONKEY”S UNCLE!! (That may have not been my exact vernacular.)  I couldn’t believe I overslept.   I immediately jumped up disrobed, put on my tri shorts an shirt, took my vitamins, put in my contacts, gathered my stuff and was down in the lobby by 4:30am awaiting the rest of the crew.  No hygiene, no pre-race glide, no pre-race meal and of course what I disliked the most, the fear I would have to  use a porta potty for a bowel movement.  OH-EM-Freakin -GEE!  My head was a wreck and I knew I had to get it together.  I was so lucky, I ended up driving myself to the race because I needed a little time to pull myself together.

I finally accepted the inevitable when we parked the cars fairly near to transition.  This was a huge plus as last year we ended up walking over a mile and then dragging our bikes and gear back.  Each moment started to bring on more and more positive energy.  Not that I wasn’t still anxious, but everything was starting to align.  Setting up transition was easy breezy.  A couple of weekends prior Amy had me running through my transition setup a few times to make sure I knew what was the most efficient for me, so it was just like putting puzzle pieces together; towel, shoes, cletes, race belt run, race belt bike, helmet and glasses.  Attach the bottles, ditch the bag and my transition was officially setup.  I ran up to it once and jumped in my cletes and mimed through my first transition as a quick check and at that point I was confident at least my bike and gear were ready.  I grabbed my wet suit, a honey stinger waffle and headed to the bus for a ride back to the swim start.

Everything continued to align as the bus’s speaker roared to life with the announcement that there would be two stops.  The first being the swim start and the second being the host hotel.  “Wait!” I thought.  “Did he just say the host hotel?  Really?”  Shut the front door!  I was going to be able to use a real bathroom prior to the race.  Awesome!  While the rest of the crew decided to go straight to the swim start, Jessica and I continued on to the hotel.  The thought of using a bathroom that was not a porta potty for…well…uh…number 2, elated me.  Not to mention, the idea I may be able to actually get that cup of coffee I was expecting in the hour I planned to have prior to leaving.  YAY!!!  Jessica seemed to be just as happy about the chance to have a cup of coffee as well.

After we both accomplished what we set out for we headed out to the River Walk and headed to the swim start.  The sky had this purple hue as the orange sun started to peak through the sky.  It was gorgeous.  I was also really happy to have a few spare moments to spend with Jessica.  She had taken the trip with us specifically to be a motivator and sherpa for Beth, and I could tell that she really appreciated Jessica being here.  Beth is this type A personality that while excitable always exhibits this aura of sunshine no matter how she is feeling.  Jessica, is extremely positive, but a little more laid back, but can definitely take her Cuban persona to a higher level when provoked.  Luckily, I only experienced it positively provoked spilling sunshine and rainbows.   I found her to be charming, caring and nurturing to everyone and luckily she was there because we all needed that grounding.

Jessica and I walked up to our crew sitting on a curb gabbing while a few of the other athletes we knew all started passing by.  We said our good lucks and gave hugs, high fives and fist bumps all the while suffering from own anxiety.  Beth is the one who turned me on to blogging more regularly and she has also forged connections with other fitness and running bloggers whom I have read.  One is Swim, Bike, Mom whom is very motivating and just so happened to not only be competing but was standing not to far from a group of bloggers that Beth was acquainted with.  I was really excited to see her there.   I don’t know what it was, but I was enthralled.  Maybe because she puts a lot of her personal feelings into her blog that I felt  like I knew her, but I was sincerely happy to see and meet her in person.

I looked at my watch and noticed it was 7:15, so I did some of my Dave Scott exercises, lunges and stretches and sat down to struggle with my wet suit.  As each leg went on the anxiety increased to another level.  “Just get me past the swim”, I kept saying to myself.  “Get me on the bike and everything will be just fine.”  One more glance at my watch.  7:28am.  I had no idea what I was thinking when the first gun went off and the announcer shouted that the Pro Men were off.  I went up to the barrier and and waited for them to swim by.  They were fast and looked as though they hardly were expending any energy.  If I could just figure that out before my wave start everything would be ok, but if I didn’t have it now, I wasn’t going to have it by then.  I decided I would trust my training and just do my best to keep straight by sighting every five strokes, kick as lightly as possible and just swim till I was done.  After that, what I thought, was a quick meditation my watch said 7:46.  I said goodbye and good luck to my crew and headed for the start.