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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Ironman Florida – Race Recap

Ironman Florida – Race Recap

For a long time, it has been called the Granddaddy of all endurance events, the Ironman triathlon. A 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike and a 26.2-mile run done consecutively in the same day. Of course, nowadays, double, triple, and even deca Ironman distance triathlons are becoming more and more popular, as well as 24, 48 and even 72-hour mud and obstacle run challenges. If you are calling me crazy for doing my second Ironman, I can introduce you to at least a few people who do challenges that make Ironman look like a game of hopscotch. (Yes, Matt “UltraIronBeast” Dolitsky, you are one of those.)

This competition for me was a learning experience in overcoming obstacles, most of them mental. I did not PR, or even come close, but I now understand completely the quote, “The mind will quite 100 times before the body does.”

Pre-Race

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Pete Amedure, Kari Eichen, Kat Ward, Jamie Breibart and myself all decided to drive up Wednesday morning in order to get acclimated to the environment and eliminate and reasons for not being prepared for Saturday’s race.  Pete, Kari and I were in my car and had a great time on the way up.  Of course, there was a stop at the Huddle House in Perry Florida where we ate and laughed to a point where I spaced out and left my phone, and didn’t realize it until we were half-an-hour from Panama City Beach.  It didn’t help that I was in the middle of contracts and had all my recruiters contacting me about interviews and new opportunities.   (I ended up remedying this by sending FedEx to the restaurant and delivering it to our hotel.  In the meantime, Google Voice was a tremendous help.)

We arrived at the Laketown Wharf complex where we stayed in a luxurious three bedroom, three bath condominium, with a beautiful view of the gulf.  I give this hotel/condo complex four stars.  It had everything needed including a nightly water and light show that rivals the Bellagio in Las Vegas.  Well, not really, but it was a fun amenity.  The condos all have a full kitchen, with dishes, glasses, silverware, pots and pans, coffee maker, and a full-size refrigerator.  Everything needed for the athlete, and spectathletes, to remove all those pressures of nutrition, and early morning breakfasts.  The area also has plenty of great restaurants for good eating as well.

Afterward, we walked the quarter mile to athlete check-in to receive our chip, bibs, bags, and swag.  I was a little disappointed in the swag this year.  Last year they gave out beautiful TYR transition backpacks, but this year it was a very inferior white backpack that looks like it will fall apart.  Jamie’s actually did, so they gave her a replacement immediately.  The expo was about twice the size that it was last year, with a host of new vendors.  Verizon was displaying their goods, as they were the tracking sponsor this year, along with Newton, Fit2Run, a local bike shop and a bunch of the regulars.  Refuel was there, talking about Chocolate Milk, so I did create a video with them talking about the benefits of it.  I will share that link on Twitter when I receive it.  It should be good for a couple of laughs.

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After that, we spent the next couple of days, taking in the aura of Ironman, preparing and eating.  Eating was a non-stop event for us.  I knew from experience that immense calories were going to be needed in order to be comfortable on the course, so I encouraged our team to keep eating as I did myself.

_MG_2276Thursday night was the athlete welcome dinner, and I was almost embarrassed.  My recollection of the 2011 athlete dinner was so wonderful, that I really talked it up and encouraged Pete, Jamie, and Kari to come.  Jamie decided not to go, but I was so excited for Pete and Kari to be there I couldn’t contain my emotions.  Unfortunately, I was sort of let down.  It seemed unorganized and hurried.  Yes, my favorite pro-triathlete and world champion Mirinda Carfrae was interviewed on stage, so that was great, but the rest of it was about charities and a couple of athletes overcoming their own obstacles.  There were video presentations about a woman who was competing for her husband who died the year earlier while training, and a quadriplegic who was competing to show the world that anyone could do anything if they just challenged themselves.

1394432_10102251072868771_978366175_nYes, their stories were inspiring but I just felt like it was too much and way too long.  In 2011 the presentations were balanced between the negative and the positive inspiring stories and we even had an athlete briefing by the race director all in the span of 90 minutes.  It held the attention of every athlete to a point where the announcer almost didn’t need the microphone.  This time, a good portion of the athletes conversed right through all the presentations to a point where it was hard to hear the MC with a microphone.  I felt like I let my friend Pete down to a point where I was apologizing so much on the walk back I became annoying.  Sorry, Pete and Kari.

_MG_2265Friday, the anxiety hit like a ton of bricks.  You couldn’t cut the tension in the condo with a Ginsu, serrated edge knife.  We ate breakfast and then headed down to the beach to get in the water with our wetsuits.  The waves sets were barreling to the shore with such force that the red, “no-swimming”, flag was flown, but we knew we needed to at least get in the water for a few minutes just to test out our goggles and our wetsuits.  Surprising enough, even with the force of the waves, I thought I became a little more confident.  I was able to stay on the surface of the water, and I practiced duck diving through the waves instead of trying to swim over them.  I really thought I may have a chance of being faster out of the water than I thought.

Afterward, we talked through our transition plans to double check our gear, 1383330801836checked to make sure our bikes were ready to go and proceeded to transition to check-in everything.  We had decided to try and wait out the rain, but unfortunately, I had a phone interview which had the chance of exceeding beyond the time check-in would close, so we walked down in the rain.  The line was so long, I was going to be cutting it very close, so afterward, I ran back to the hotel.  On the way back, I dropped my phone and cracked the screen.  Yes, I had the phone back in my hands all of two hours and I dropped it.  I have never broken a phone before,  ever,  and here I had two phone interviews and I cracked the screen.  I was lucky enough that the phone still worked with voice recognition and a little effort, so the two interviews scheduled went off without any problems and I confirmed them both for second interviews as well.

That night we had a good dinner at the Wicked Wheel and we were all in bed around 9 pm ready to take on the Ironman.

Race Day

As predicted, the night before was restless but I did end up sleeping a good 4-5 hours before the alarm went off.  As planned we dressed in sweats, grabbed our “Special Needs” bags,  nutrition for the bike, and headed to transition around 4:30 am.  We were body marked, checked our bikes, dropped our bags, and then headed back to try and leisurely eat breakfast, and dress for the race.  Kari cooked eggs and turkey bacon, I cooked oatmeal and we all hung out for a while and tried to prepare ourselves with our loved ones.  It was kind of surreal.  I remembered these moments from the first time I competed in this race, but it still seemed like it was all new again.

We dressed, pulled on our wetsuits halfway, hugged and headed for the start line.  We walked 1393113_10202369776593562_1301605987_nwith Kari, Kim, and Danny down to the start, but athletes had to enter separately than spectators, so when we finally hit the beach we couldn’t find them.  I really wanted to see them all before the start, but I knew I would be ok if I didn’t, but Kari had Pete’s goggles in her bag, so now it became imperative that we find them.  We walked over trying to find them, so when it came to a point where we had no time left, we dropped our stuff and proceeded to button up our wetsuits and prepare to go under the arch.  It was at that moment, our party found us.  Talk about cutting it close.  We hugged, gut our well wishes, wished each other luck and headed into the mass of athletes preparing for the start.

This year was a little different as signs were being held up with expected times for the swim.  It could be compared to pace groups commonly found in road races except instead of going deep from a start line this went wide along the shore with the idea that if the slower swimmers would be the widest from the buoys and would fall in behind the faster ones.   This was thought to bring down the chaos of a mass swim start, but for me, it was worse.   I have been in comparable rough water,  hit, kicked and swam over before and I always kept on swimming no matter what, but this time I was kicked so many times with the last time throwing my goggles from my face.  It took me a few minutes to find them floating away from me, but I was able to put them back without too much trouble.

When I finished my first loop, the clock said 1:11 which was very slow.  I thought I should be able to make up at least three minutes on the second loop, so I shouldn’t be in any danger of not making the 2:20 cutoff.  I found a rhythm and just kept swimming, but I veered to the left of buoys and to keep correcting my course.  When I made the turn for the straightaway to the swim finish,  I glanced at my wrist to check my Garmin to see how much time I had left, and it was gone.  Not only could I not find out what I needed to cross the swim finish, I wasn’t going to know how fast I would bike, or run.  I wouldn’t know when to take my nutrition or even what time it was.

0477_16758Three buoys from the end I ended up with a paddle boarder on the left of me and jet ski on the right.  The paddleboarder kept yelling the time I had left.  “You have 8 minutes. You got this just keep going.”  I have to admit, the idea of a DNF crossed my mind and it did not scare me.  I thought to myself “would it really be the end o the world.”  I would be able to support Pete, Jamie, and Kat and I wouldn’t have to worry about biking 112 miles, chafing, nutrition, none of it.  Of course, I wouldn’t get to cross that finish line and I would feel like a failure and that is what really scared me.  It wasn’t the disappointment of my friends or even my family, it was the disappointment I would have in myself.  That never-ending coulda, woulda, shoulda would really haunt me, so I sped up and went as hard as I could.  The waves after the sandbar helped and even though I got caught up in the rope tied to one of the lifeguard’s flotation device I was able to hit the beach at exactly 2:20 getting me over the timing mat at 2:20:08.

I don’t mind stating that I was exhausted.  I have stated it time and time again, that I am not even a good swimmer, but this really put it in perspective.

I ran into transition and the volunteers stated I had eight minutes to cross the bike mat, so they hurried me into my bib and jersey I was using for the bike, put on my helmet and shoes and rushed me out into transition to grab my bike.  I crossed and headed out on my 112-mile journey.

My lungs were screaming and my stomach was churning, but I just kept going.  I0477_15604 passed the mile 10 marker and about, what I estimate was around the 12-13 mile mark, nausea started.  I pulled over to the side of the road and vomited sea water over the guardrail.  Unfortunately, I have what is called a vasovagal response to vomiting, which basically means I pass out cold.  I woke up, splayed out on the side of the road with the sun shining in my eyes.  It took a while to get my wits and balance in order to get back on my bike.  I continued slowly with the thoughts of turning around and just ending it.  Who would blame me?  I became sick on the bike, no one would care.  With my stomach still churning and my head spinning I decided I would go to the twenty-mile marker and if I didn’t feel better I would turn around.  The earlier thoughts I had of a DNF plagued me again and when I saw the 20-mile sign, I was still feeling sick, but better than I did.  I took in some of the Isagenix mix I had in my bottles and decided to go on to the next marker, but it wasn’t more than a mile later I realized that if I turned around at the 30 mile mark, I would have biked 60 miles by the time I got back to the start.  That’s when I knew I had it in me.  It no longer was about time now it was about finishing.

From that point on the bike ended up being uneventful.  Sure, there were minor challenges.  For instance, the wind picked up quite a bit, and of course, I still had no perception of time, except for when I asked, but I just put my head down and kept going.

Here is a little lesson learned while I was on the bike.  As I mentioned the wind became a challenge during the bike, but I decided to wear an aero helmet and while I was in aero position and looked down, the wind became a little less a factor.  I found myself being able to pick up a higher cadence.  The minute I looked straight I could not only hear the wind, but I felt like someone had hit the breaks on my bike.  Every article and person always said, one way and the cheapest way to become more aero was a helmet.  They were right.

Being the last one out of the water did have one advantage.  I wasn’t going to get passed.  I was doing all the passing, and with each rider I passed, I felt a little bit of mental boost which helped a great deal.  I rolled into transition in a little over 7 hours, which, in my estimation, had me on the side of the road for a little over 30 minutes.  All-in-all it wasn’t actually that bad.

A volunteer grabbed my bike, I snatched my run gear bag and was greeted in the changing room by my friend, and client, Hugo Scavino.  He helped me rid myself of the bib and bike jersey and don my shoes and hat.  After a huge hug, I headed off onto the run course.  I stopped briefly for words of encouragement, hugs and kisses from Kim, Kari, Maria and Anne, and off onto the course I went.  I walked for about a quarter mile before I started running.  I was kind of amazed.  I felt like I was able to transition to my running legs a little easier than the Augusta 70.3 I competed in six weeks earlier.  I hit the first aid station in about 1.5 miles and I was feeling pretty good.  I formulated my plan of running from aid station to aid station and just walking while I was getting water and nutrition.  This worked for the first loop.

0477_16910Pete and Jaime passed me at my mile 3 and their mile 10 and we shook hands and I motivated Pete with warning him I should not be able to catch him.  Of course in the back of my mind, I was questioning if I could somehow make up 7 miles on him.  Dave Nardoski caught up with me on his second loop, so I walked and chatted with him for a few minutes before I picked up the pace again.  At mile 6 I saw Kat looking really strong and I yelled some encouragement to her as I passed.  The halfway point for the first loop is in a park and I was feeling pretty good.  I started doing the math in my head for what it would take to catch up to Pete and Jamie.  The idea of the three of crossing together seemed surreal but possibly realistic.  At mile 10 I saw Jamie and she had picked up the pace from Pete, and she looked really good.  Obviously, the three of us crossing was most likely not going to happen unless I could really pick up some speed and Pete and I could catch her.  A little while later I saw Pete again walking.  We stopped for a minute and he told me that everything hurt.  I gave him some encouragement and we parted.  Just prior to the turnaround I found myself running next to Lew Hollander.  Lew, is an 83-year-old, twenty-time Kona qualifier and finisher.  He is extremely inspiring and is the epitome of the idea that age doesn’t have to be an excuse.  We chatted briefly, he gave me some motivation, I congratulated him, he ran into the finisher chute and I made the turn.  Kim and Danny were on the other side of the turn, so I was able to see them and get some love and hugs from Kim.  She actually ran a little bit with me before I headed off.

I was hurting now.  At mile 14 I slowed to a walk.  My feet were screaming in agony, my hips, quads, hamstrings and IT bands were in a lot of pain and I started getting a twinge in my back.  I didn’t want to walk, but my legs were not letting me run either.  I decided I would walk to the aid station of after mile 15 and continue from there.  It didn’t happen the way I wanted.   I ended up doing a series of run/walk intervals all the way to mile 18 where Pete and I crossed for the last time.  We high-fived each other and continued on.  Not too far ahead I stopped to use a portlet, but when I exited I became turned around and stupidly started running in the wrong direction.  I caught myself about a half mile before I realized what I was doing and quickly did a one-eighty.  I guess I was meant to run even more than a marathon this time.

I did meet Susan, a member of the Sarasota Storm Tri Club, which I have participated in races and training with.  We chatted and played cat and mouse for a while.  Susan had a very steady pace, so I would catch her and then when I would walk she would pass me.  This happened about 3 or 4 times throughout the marathon portion.  After getting completing the out-and-back in the park to head to the finish I started to feel like I just was about done with this whole thing.  I was walking more than running, I was in pain and I was just ready for this experience to end.  When I saw mile 20, I thought I only have a 10k left.  I could do a 10k in my sleep.  I started to pick up the pace just a bit.  I walked through the aid station in between 20 and 21 and started talking to myself.  “C’mon legs.  Just one more training run.  I need ya.  Relax.  Use gravity as momentum.  We can do this.”

Ahead was mile marker 21, and it was then when I decided, there will be no more stops at aid stations, there will be no more walking.  It was time to get this done.  I picked up the pace and never looked back.  I caught up with Susan at mile 22 and I told her to come with me.  This was just a 5k with a one-mile warm-up.  She said something that really motivated me.  “You are really strong, Brad.”  Who was she trying to kid?  It wasn’t 12 hours ago I had thoughts of quitting.  I didn’t quit though and here I was 4 miles from the finish of my second Ironman.  I picked up the pace even more to a point where I was running at a sub 8:30 pace for a bit.  I was in a lot of pain, but it was going to be worse if I stopped.  Every time I passed another athlete or spectator they would say “Good job” and that just fueled me.  A couple of the spectators would yell, “Awesome pace keep it up!”  I ran through the Tri Club village at 25 when someone yelled “Go Goof GO!”, so I even picked up the pace even more.  When I finally reached the chute there were two people running together in front of me and I didn’t know whether to let them go ahead or pass them.  I passed them and sped up even more in order to make sure I was alone at the finish line.

I saw the finish line and didn’t even look at the clock.  After all, I hadn’t known what time it was up to that point, so what did it matter now.  The announcer bellowed, “Brad Minus from Tampa Bay, YOU ARE AN IRONMAN!”  Oh, how sweet that sounded.  Especially after being kicked, and hit in the water, losing my goggles and Garmin, vomiting and blacking out on the side of the road, and running through all that pain.  I finally reached the finish.

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A volunteer escorted me to Yvonne Van Vlerken, the women’s first-place finisher, who placed the medal around my neck.  We congratulated each other and she gave me a hug, and then I continued with my handler to get a shiny warming sheath, and a finish photo before she handed me off to Kim, Maria, Jamie and the Dannys.  I saw Pete sitting down and we just looked at each other with pain on our faces but pride in our eyes.

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The rest of the night consisted of pizza and hard cider and regaling stories of the race.  PB&J had accomplished what we set out to do a year earlier.

578495_10102260791193171_715325386_nJamie was the heroine of the night.  When she decided to run she end up fast enough to finish with a 13:50.  I am still so proud of her.  Pete ended up a little under 15 and I ended up with a 15:09.  I am not happy with it.  It is significantly longer than 2011, but I finished and everything considered, I did have fun.  That is what matters most.

Thank you to all who tracked and reported on Facebook, for all the prayers, thoughts, motivation and kudos, Anne, Kari, Maria, Hugo and all the other voluneteers, Kim for supporting me and especially to Pete, Jamie, & Kat for being my training buddies through this journey.

Carpe Viam!

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How to Start Cycling

How to Start Cycling

One of the scariest things for a beginning triathlete, besides getting in the open water, is cycling.  The first image that wandered into my head upon deciding to start seriously bicycling was of a that scary peloton. Those tight formations of bikes moving at ridiculous speeds, during the Tour de France, so close together that one wrong move could cause serious damage to my body or someone else. Scary right? Luckily, triathlon doesn’t allow for huge groups like that, as a matter of fact it isn’t even allowed.  Whew!

Buying my first Bike

I didn’t have a lot of money when I first started in triathlon, and I also didn’t really know if I was going to like it.  I spent a lot of time in bike stores drooling over the expensive bikes, while studying cheaper entry level bikes.  Every bike store had a different angle they played.  One would say, purchase the more expensive bike, gain more speed so when I improved I didn’t have to buy another bike.  Another would tell me to buy the entry level but load it up with expensive components so I could ride faster, and when I wanted another bike, the components alone would warrant a good price, and of course that store would buy it back from me and give me a discount an another bike.  Decisions, decisions what to do, what to do?

I researched different road and tri bikes online and in magazines, and while I was pretty surecannondale_caad9 I would enjoy triathlon, I decided on an entry level Canondale CAAD 9 road bike.  I also included in my purchase, a pair of pedals, cleats, shoes and a helmet.  The helmet was very important especially since I hadn’t actually rode a bike in over 10 years.  Would I really not forget how to ride a bike?  The answer to that my friends is YES.  It is not a skill that is forgotten.  It maybe a little unsteady the first couple of times, but not forgotten.  Luckily I will have my trusty helmet, just in case.

I also read something that resonated with me.  The most important thing that is needed after the purchase of a bike, is the fitting.  At first I thought, “what?  Don’t I just have to find the most comfortable height of the seat and then get going?”  I had no idea that there are so many different adjustments on a bike, to a point that bike “fitters” actually have to be certified in order to properly fit you.  They have to take courses, pass tests and be mentored.  “Really?”, you ask?  Yes…really.

The fitting took about an hour where they put my bike on a trainer, and with my shoes and bike shorts I pedaled, then the fitter took measurements and made adjustments to my seat post raising it and lowering it to a perfect dimension.  Then he took angle measurements from the ground to my hip, knee and shoulder and from the pedal and a bunch of other places.  He moved my saddle not only up and down by forward and back.  He then took my handle bars and put different size spacers on the tube underneath my handlebars to find the perfect height and then was able to move them back and forth to find the right angle, height and most comfortable spot for me.  I had no clue there was this much to it.

Pre-First Ride

As I left the store after my fitting, Jo-el, the general manager and friend from my track club, gave me some good advice.  I had never rode in cleats and pedals before, where my feet were clipped into the pedals where they wouldn’t just simply lift up.  I had to turn my heel so the cleat would unclip from the pedals so I could put my foot down.  Jo-el said to take my bike in the house and put it between a doorway, and practice clipping and un-clipping from the pedals.  Also, I needed to find the most comfortable side to unclip first and then stick to that side no matter what.  I followed that advice in detail.  I clipped, unclipped, clipped and unclipped till I was sure I had mastered it.  Then I took a little ride around the block and practiced even more till I was confident I mastered at least that part.

I had a feeling of euphoria that first little trip in my neighborhood.  I felt fast, free traveling under my own power on this brand new, tuned Cannondale bike.  I was really excited for my first ride the next day in the hills of San Antonio.

The First Ride

I drove to San Antonio…Florida that is, with my brand new bike in the back, my new bike shorts on, bottles ready to put in their cages on the bike, coffee in my cup holder and classic rock playing on the radio.  I remember having mixed feelings about this initial ride.  I had never ridden in a group before, I had never ridden with these cleats and clips before, but I knew I was in good shape but was I fit enough?  After that I just thought to myself, “if you cannot go as far then just turn around and head back.  no big deal.”.

I met a friend at these ball fields and was mesmerized by the amount of bikers getting ready to take their morning ride.  The sea of colors from the different bikes and jerseys was extremely overwhelming.  That anxious feeling came back for a second until my friend mentioned we were riding with triathletes not pure cyclists.  They would understand I was on my first ride and would help me out.  After preparing for my first journey, we found our formation and began the trek.

I was surprised that I was staying in the middle of the pack and with minimal effort.  The wind was in my face,  I was pedaling under my own power and keeping up!  It was an incredibly euphoric feeling.  Unfortunately, when we hit the first long hill, euphoria turned to anxiety and then… embarrassment.

My pedaling slowed, and it became extremely hard to mash down on the pedals.  With very minimal spinning of my legs I tried to switch to higher gear, but I actually ended up in a lower gear which made it even harder. When I did finally gear up, it was too late.  I couldn’t move the pedals fast enough to switch gears, and my chain fell off , so I was at a dead stop. Of course I was so concerned about the gears I didn’t unclip out of my pedals, and I went down on my side.  The only thing that really hurt was my ego as I stood my bike up and examined the chain.  The group was passing me all asking if I was ok, and taking for granted that I was telling them I was fine and to keep going.  By the time I had my chain back on the group was completely out of site.  I pedaled like a bat out of hell hoping to catch up, but I missed a turn and ended up 10 miles out of my way, and lost.

To make a long story short ( I know, too late) one of the faster members of the group realized I was gone, backtracked, and finally found me asking directions at a convenience store.  He led me back to the group and I finished the ride without any other issues, but I learned a lot of lessons that day.

Hints to get started in cycling straight from the Goof:

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On my first bike after a couple of modifications

1. Buy an entry level road bike.  This is usually an aluminum alloy frame.  You don’t want a Wal-mart special, but you don’t need to start with the top of the line bike either.

2. Purchase a set of entry level pedals, cleats and shoes.  The pedals usually come with the cleats and the bike shop will install them for  you.

3. Purchase safety equipment.  Biking shorts, and a helmet to start.  I would also have a set of sunglasses as well.  Not just to keep the sun out of your eyes, but it helps with the wind too.  Make sure you also have at least one water bottle with a cage installed on your bike.

4. Get the bike fit for you.  Have a certified bike fitter make those adjustments specifically for you.

5. Practice getting in and out of your cleats .  Put your bike in a doorway, hold onto the frame and get in and get out of your cleats.  Find the most comfortable side of the bike and then practice getting out of the cleats and putting your foot on the ground.

6.  Take a short ride around your neighborhood and continue to practice getting in and out of your cleats.  When seeing a stop or even a potential stop ahead practice just moving your heel just to the point where you unclip before stopping so you have a quick option that you can pull out of your clip to stop or return your heel to clip back in to keep going.  Remember to always clip out and stand with the same foot first every time.

7.  Understand your gears.  While in that first ride, switch the gears on your right hand and find what lever takes you to a higher or easier gear, and which one brings you to a lower or harder gear.

8.  Take your first long ride with friends and have some fun.

One last thing, you are going to fall.  That is just the reality of it.  You will get stuck in your cleats at some point and you will fall over, but it will be minimal.  The trick is to accept it, get up brush yourself off, laugh at yourself, get back on your bike and have fun.  It’s worth it I promise.

This post was originally published for IR4C for their new media site, IR4C.TV on July 2, 2013.

Goof Race Recap – HITS Ocala

Goof Race Recap – HITS Ocala

HITS is a fairly new triathlon series, with a unique concept.  Their tag line is “A distance for everyone”, which really says it all.  A HITS weekend consists of 70.3 (half-iron distance) and a 140.6(full-iron distance) on Saturday, and on Sunday, Sprint and Olympic distance triathlons.  It is a pretty cool concept, and they are really well-organized.

After having breakfast with the Team Foley after the Fight for Air Climb I headed out to Ocala with the hope of seeing at least Margie, Kari and Megan cross the finish line.   I have to admit, while I have been training, it hasn’t been as focused as it should have.  My “off-season” mentality didn’t quite transition into the race attitude just yet, but I thought I was at least in shape to do the Oly.  In triathlon season, usually the first couple of months, is usually “Base” phase which just gets the wheels and legs rolling again, develop some strength and start gaining the endurance needed for race season.  With that in mind, I figured an Olympic distance would be perfect to baseline where I am in my training.  Imagine my surprise when I saw a lot of my friends out on Saturday competing in the 70.3.  As I was watching competitors and friends cross the line there was a familiar itch developing in my heart.  I didn’t quite notice what it was at the time.

The course for the 70.3 was pretty intense with loops that included a 1.2 mile swim in a 65 degree Lake Weir, 56 miles of rolling hills and wind of the bike, and an intense mixture of soft trails, and asphalt out-and-backs for the 13.1 mile run.  I was too busy losing my lungs to catch any of the swim or bike, but I was happy to be around to see the finale of the run.

I had my first blog recognition, which was really nice.  I was at the expo, grabbing a couple of Honey Stinger gels for my race the next day and I was chatting with the owner of Kickstart Endurance and she told me she followed IronGoof.  I tried not to make a big deal out of it, but secretly I was really excited.

I missed Margie, but I was really happy to see Megan and Kari cross the finish.  They both were finishing their first 70.3 along with some other members of the Tri Psych Club, so for them this was a huge accomplishment and deserved a celebration.  That itch started to intensify at Chili’s that night as everyone’s conversation about their race surrounded me.

I really attempted to be nonchalant about this race.  I kept telling myself, “Self, this is no big deal.  You know you are not ready to race, this is a small race and this is going to tell you what you need to work on.”  Unfortunately, waking up the next morning at 4:30a, and preparing my gear not only woke up my consciousness but the competition juices and anxiety levels as well.  I showered, dressed, applied my TriTats, loaded the car and off I went.

As I mentioned before, the organization of this race was first-rate, from, staff organizing parking to the transition areas.   Have I mentioned the transition area?  In previous races I have barely glanced over the amenities of the transition areas, well except for the Rev3 Venice Beach.  Let me put it this way, if the transition areas were cars, then every other race I have been in were Toyotas, the Rev3 was a Lexus, and the HITS series was a Bentley.  Not only were there boxes that held gear and clamped a tire for easy removal of the bike, plenty of room for transition setup in-between the bikes, but each participant had their own personal stool with their number and last name on them.  It doesn’t sound like a lot, but it really is the little things that make an impression.

I headed down to the beach with my wet suit on halfway, goggles and swim cap in hand.  The temperature outside was perfect with just a slight breeze and the sun was starting to slowly creep up over the horizon.  I was incredibly grateful to see my friends down on the beach.  Pete, Kari, Megan, Michael, Stan and a couple f others as it made me feel slightly less stressed.  After the mandatory meeting, all of the males waded out a bit into the water for the start.  My anxiety reared a little due to the fact, I was using my backup goggles because my regular goggles broke in transition and this was the coldest water I had ever swam in.

The whole beach counted off, “Three, Two, One…” and the horn blew.  We all ran or dolphin dived toward the first buoy.  The water was kind of shallow so I did have some time to start to get used to the water.  I remembered my strategy and my stroke count and I started swimming.  I started losing ground within the first 200m, which was normal for me.  My new stroke technique is still relatively new, so I figured I wasn’t going to be fast immediately.  When I reached the first buoy, I started feeling short of breath, even though I thought I was relatively relaxed.  My chest started to feel compressed like I was being stepped on, and my arms were not moving as freely as I wanted them to.  I moved to breast stoke to see if I could relax a bit, but it was to know avail, the compression would just not loosen. I have never had an issue with my wet suit.  Except for getting out of it, I kinda like it.  I feel more buoyant, warmer and protected from other things that may cause issues in open water.  Now I just felt like it was python, strangling me. I kept going, but it was a combination of freestyle, side stroke, and breast stoke.  When I reached the second buoy, my mind went into overdrive trying to get me to quit.  The ideas popping in my head were asinine.  I kept hearing, “You aren’t trained for this”, “You don’t belong here.”, “Just get out of the water.  It is only a baseline remember?”.  The thing was, I had another loop to do.  I swam toward third buoy, and the water became very shallow, so we really didn’t have any choice but to run through it and start dolphin diving again.   I forced myself to have the one thought that has gotten me through tough training, cold, wet and rainy workouts, and exhausting races; “The mind will quit one-hundred times before the body does.”  I told myself, “Self, that is first and only time that is going to happen today.”  I ran around the third buoy and headed out for my second loop.

The second loop felt a little better, but I was so happy to get out of that wet suit.  I am still not quite certain why I felt that way. It wasn’t the size of the wet suit because when I bought it I was 25 pounds heavier.  Either way I ran out of the water unzipping and getting out of it on my way to transition.  One of the strippers told me to lay down and she yanked it off of me.  I grabbed my helmet while I put on my shoes and crossed the mat in less than 3 minutes.  

bike2

The bike course was actually pretty nice.  Rolling hills, with well conditioned roads and plenty help by the Sheriff’s department.  I wanted to make up sometime, so in my head I thought to just keep passing people.  I only got passed twice during the first ten miles of the twenty-five mile course and I was happy with that.  I played cat & mouse with a couple of them, and ended up passing them in during the last half of the course.  Unfortunately, there was a storm on the horizon and the wind picked up quite a bit on on the second half, not to mention the hills were more abundant and steeper(at least for Florida).   My speed, that I was holding quite consistent at 21 mph started to drop to 18, then 17 and at that point, I refused to go under 18 mph.  I came into transition, averaging 19.1 and I was proud of that.

I racked my bike and sat on my stool to put on my socks and shoes.  I got hung up a little bit, but was still out of there in less than 3 minutes, and it was off to the run.  Pete yelled at me as I headed into the trees, “This is the fun part”.  At first I agreed with him.

run2

I decided to wear my Hoka One One Biondi Speed 2 running shoes with the large sole, because I wanted to test how they felt on a triathlon after being on the bike.  Big mistake.  At first the ground wasn’t very soft, and I was ok running about an 8:15 mile, but as I got further into the woods, the trail got softer and softer.  With that big sole, not only was my foot pushing down on the sole, but then into the soft ground causing three times as much resistance as the a regular running shoe.  I didn’t figure this out at first, but after one-and-a-half miles, I felt like I needed to stop, and that was not usual, not matter what kind of shape I was in.  I walked at the aid station for about 200 yards and then I continued running but at a much slower pace.  I had to do two loops of the run course as well, and I could feel the resistance ease off when I hit the asphalt again.  All of the sudden I was lighter and faster, but I had to do a second  loop into the woods again.  I decided my strategy would be to walk a hundred yards at the aid station and 100 yards at the turn-around, but other than that I would let my legs do what could.   It worked out well as my splits were faster on the second loop.

I ran out of the woods with Pete snapping shots and hearing cheers from Megan, Kari and a couple of others.  As, I crossed the finish line it became clear to me, that I am not in the shape I was in for my last 70.3, but I would enjoy this moment as a victory.  It was not a PR, but it this race let me know what I need to do over the next months in order to take on the rest of my race schedule.

After calming down a bit and chatting with Pete and a few other friends, Summer Bailey found me.  She had competed in the 70.3 the day before.  Summer lives in Georgia, so we really only see each other at races and occasionally chat on Facebook  so it was really incredible to actually chat and catch up with her in person.  She is an amazing woman and with a huge heart and ferocious determination.  We both agreed that neither one of us had trained enough for our races, but it was good to have a race under our belt for the year.  Chatting with her was encouraging, and I know we will be seeing each other again during the season.   To be able to see and chat with her and some others that I do not get to train with allowed me to remember one of the greatest thing about triathlon and racing in general.  It’s the friends  and connections we make.  Other than having a good race and crossing the finish line, it is the best part about it.

 

Besides crossing the finish line what are the best experiences you have competing?

 

Carpe Viam!

 

Goof Review: Elf The Musical

The Tampa Bay Bloggers had an opportunity to see Elf the Musical on opening night and as a new member I was thrilled at the chance to take part.  Now as I am a new member I am not sure of the background of my fellow bloggers, but I do have a modest amount of training and experience in theater (www.bradminus.com), so I may be just a tad more specific especially on the acting, but nevertheless I hope my review will be informative enough to help you decide whether to see it or not.  Just a little foreshadowing….go see it.

Elf the Musical is based on the 2003 holiday movie Elf starring Will Farrell about a human baby who found his way into Santa’s bag during his Christmas visit to a local orphanage.  Since the boy was already an orphan, Santa and his elves decided to raise the child at the north pole just as they would any elf child.  The problem was Buddy, the human boy, grew to be over six feet tall.  After a small slip of the tongue by one of the other elves, Buddy learns that he is indeed human and asks Santa about his parents.  It is then that Buddy decides to go and find his father in the big city of New York.

NETwork Presentations LLC’s production of this family Christmas musical was alive with high energy musical numbers, colorful set pieces and smooth transitions from scene to scene.  In the past decade or two, Broadway and national tours have started to move toward high tech sets and stage work which include hgh intensive set changes, creative light and sound effects, and even some pyrotechnics.  Very recently I have noticed a small shift back to a more classical route where the set pieces are simple but painted well, the lighting is simple and the music and sound are achieved by a live orchestra instead of musical tracks.  This musical is a perfect example.  This simpler style has shifted the responsibility of the quality of productions back to the performers and less to the designers of sets, sound and lighting.  In my opinion it makes for a better show, but I may be a little biased.

The play opens up with Santa (Gordon Gray) sitting in his living room fighting with his television set.  He opens the fourth wall and greets the audience as if we were sitting on the floor right in his living room.  After subtly turning off his cell phone, he opens a book and prepares to tell us the story of Buddy the Elf.  At the point the living room is whisked away to Santa’s workshop where the elves are preparing for Christmas.   Gordon’s depiction of Santa throughout the play is wonderful.  His energy and boastfulness helped me to get lost in the show and actually believe I was at the north pole.

Matt Kopec’s characterization of Buddy is spot on as his high energy, child like characterization makes the audience believe this six-foot boy really does believe he is an elf and is horrified when he finds out he is actually human.  Matt’s singing voice is pure musical theater and was a joy to hear every time he opened his mouth.  I found myself waiting impatiently for his next number.

The real treat came from the character of Jovie (Kae Hennies), who captures Buddy’s heart the moment he sees her in the office of his biological father, Walter Hobbs (Drew Culver).  Jovie has to be coaxed in to singing during the number “A Christmas Song”, but when she finally decides to sing out, her voice beautifully resonates throughout the theatre and when paired with Buddy’s the duo create pure musical brilliance for any ear.

Other notable performances were by Michael, Buddy’s half brother played by Connor Barth who even as a young actor, had a mature voice for his age.  He tended to get a little pitchy in the upper registers, but because of his characterization was easily missed and forgivable.  Julia Louise Hosack played Emily Hobbs, Buddy’s step mother, also had a fantastic musical voice and she was able to lead Michael into musical duets that gave me the “warm fuzzies”.  The connection and chemistry between these two well trained actors allowed me to believe they were really mother and son.

The only drawback of this production that tugged me out of my holiday nirvana, was the voice of Drew Pulver whom played Walter Hobbs, Buddy’s father.  His performance was not inferior, it just did not mix well the rest of the ensemble in my humble opinion.  It was obvious to the audience that most of the ensemble were trained in contemporary music or musical theater   When Walter sang it was clearly operatic, to a point where the words were garbled and I couldn’t make out the lyrics.  Unfortunately, every time he sang it was distracting and his voice did not meld with the rest of the ensemble.

This show is classical musical theatre with simply painted sets, wonderful acting, and is sure to bring a smile to you and your family should you decide to see it.  It is a true Holiday treat.

Elf the Musical is playing at
Straz Center for the Performing Arts
1010 North W.C. MacInnes Place
Tampa, Florida 33602
November 20-25
Wed. 7:30 p.m.
Fri. 2 and 8 p.m.
Sat. 2 and 8 p.m.
Sun. 1 and 6:30 p.m.

 

Tampa Treasure Thursday – Jet City Espresso

Tampa Treasure Thursday – Jet City Espresso

There is a secret getaway we have here in Tampa, and it is very famous among Tampa runners and triathletes. Especially if you are a regular runner of the Four Green Fields Tuesday run, the McDinton’s Pub Tuesday Run, and the Yard of Ale Thursday run.  As a result, if you want the finest coffee and espresso drinks, the wildest and most nutritious smoothies and unbelievably delicious homemade scones and baked goods, you need to visit Jet City Espresso.

The Heart of Jet City Espresso

Jet City is owned and operated by Jessica Glover who brings a world of restaurant experience and tastes to her establishment.  She is committed to producing good coffee and freshly baked goods. She converted the sunroom of her house into the shop.  Do you want homemade baked goods?  Well, Jet City is the place to go.  Her scones are as delicious as they are fresh and natural.  Jessica is a fan of the most organic, natural and fresh ingredients possible.  Are you on a gluten-free diet?  No worries. She has gluten-free scones, rice crispy treats, and muffins.  Do you practice a Paleo lifestyle?  No problem there either. She provides Paleo Brownies and scones too.  Your mouth is watering now. Isn’t it?

Speaking of Paleo, what about her espresso drinks?  Do you require Coconut or Almond milk to make your latte or cappuccino? Not only will she make it with your favorite milk, but if you ask her nicely she might even sweeten it with coconut sugar or organic honey.

The Environment

I can continue to go on and on about Jessica’s delicious goods and coffee, but what makes this little secret so special is her rare positive energy that will not allow you to feel anything but happy during your visit. Because of the aura of positivity that the patrons of this magical coffee house also help to continue to create an atmosphere of, well, “home.”  Walk into this place once, and you are on your way to becoming one of the family and before you know it Jessica and the other patrons are calling you by name and you are receiving hugs and kisses on the cheek whenever you enter or leave.  Well, at least that what happens to me.

Most noteworthy, the walls are covered in with paintings of local musicians that were created by Jessica herself.  There are stands with guitars, mandolins, and banjos each of which can be picked up at any time and played with perfection by Jessica Glover herself.  When the conversation is not taken over by stories of races, or upcoming athletic events you might be lucky to find a couple of musicians jamming out.  Maybe you will hear, original tunes, contemporary covers, classic hits, or Jessica’s favorite, Irish Folk music.

You Won’t be Disappointed

In a society where almost all of the coffee shops are commercial, the coffee is burnt, the baked goods and food are shipped frozen and microwaved, Jet City brings you back when coffee was made to perfection, the baked goods were fresh and the environment was positive and friendly.  Beware, walking into Jet City one time guarantees you will constantly be aching to return.

318 S Edison Ave
Tampa, FL 33606
M-F 7a-2p, Sat-Sun 11a-1p
You might remember this woman from Tribute Tuesday #1
Virginia (Maya’s Mom), Elena (Maya’s Aunt), and Maya
Susan and Maya