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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How to Run Faster by Running Slower

How to Run Faster by Running Slower

I can hear it now….”Know wonder they call you a Goof…you are crazy.”, “So, if I run slower I will get faster?  You are out of your mind.”  It was not to long ago I used to think the same thing, but as with everything I post, there are reasons and science to back it up.

Let’s face it, logic would dictate that pushing the pace of your easy days, as close to race pace as possible, would help you get fit faster and help you speed up, right?  A lot of coaches, including myself, will tell you to run slow on your easy days, and easy days should be making up anywhere from 50-75% of your weekly mileage.

I have clients continuously asking me, “why are my easy days so slow?”  The latest is my famous sit downs with my runners telling them to slow down after examining their data and finding them running tempo speeds during an easy day.

The answer to the question is what Arthur Lydiard and most other coaches would call the aerobic system.  The aerobic system, or aerobic development, is the one of the most important fundamentals into unlocking your true potential.

Let us first check the stats on the energy contribution the aerobic system provides for races.  As you can in the chart below, even the shorter events like the mile, over 80% of the energy required to run the race is produced via the aerobic system.image

 

Aerobic System?  What is it?

Aerobic training is the scientific fact that to move your body at higher intensities, the body needs to break down sugar and convert it to glycogen so it can be used as energy.

The aerobic system plus oxygen starts a chemical reaction known as Aerobic Glycolysis which continuously powers continuous endurance activities.  In the aerobic system energy ATP is produced through Pyruvic Acid and Lipid/Protein fragments entering the Kreb Cycle and the Electron Transport Cycle.

Uh…what?

During aerobic respiration (yeah, that’s breathing) the body uses all the oxygen it needs to power the muscles.  When you are running in your “aerobic zones” (easy runs), your muscles have enough oxygen to produce all the energy they need to perform.

See?  Improving your capacity to transport and efficiently use all the available oxygen to produce energy will enable you to race faster since this makes up 85-99% of the energy needed to race.

Since running easy is aerobic development, what better way is there to train the aerobic system?  There is none.

What goes on in the body during aerobic development?

Capillary development – capillaries are the smallest of the body’s blood vessels and they help deliver oxygen and nutrients to the muscle tissues while exporting waste products out.  The larger the number of capillaries you have surrounding each muscle fiber, the faster you can transport oxygen and carbohydrates to your muscles.

Aerobic training (easy running) increases the number of capillaries per muscle fiber, thus improving how efficiently you can deliver oxygen and fuel to your working muscles and how quickly they can clear waste products.

Myoglobin Increase

Myoglobin is a protein in the muscles that binds the oxygen that enters the muscle fiber.  When oxygen becomes limited during intense exercise, myoglobin releases oxygen to the mitochondria to produce more energy.

The more myoglobin you have in the fibers of your muscles, the more oxygen is transported under aerobic stress.  Like, uh, during a race.  Aerobic training increases the amount of myoglobin you have in your muscle fibers.

Mitochondria creation

Mitochondria are microscopic organelle found in your muscles cells that contribute to the production of ATP (energy). In the presence of oxygen, mitochondria breakdown carbohydrate, fat, and protein into usable energy.

Therefore, the more mitochondria you have, and the greater their density, the more energy you can generate during exercise, which will enable you to run faster and longer.

Aerobic training increases both the number and the size of the mitochondria in your muscle fibers.

Suffice it to say that aerobic development is the single most important factor to long-term development.

Of course, track workouts, VO2 max sessions, tempo runs and cross training will increase your fitness and are still incredibly important to racing faster.  However, nothing will help improve continuously like developing the aerobic system.

Aerobic development is dependent upon running in your aerobic zones (for my runners Zones 1-3).  This is why running faster on your easy days develop the aerobic system.  Once you step out of those aerobic zones, on easy runs you diminish development of your aerobic system, but you also increase the chance for injury.  Nope, two negatives do not make a positive in running.

This is one of the single biggest mistakes runners of all experiences make in their training.

As a coach and trainer I have always distinguished myself because I am always able to give my clients and readers the “why”.  (Sometimes my clients end up telling me to just shut my mouth. when I am training with them because I am continuously telling them why they are doing each movement of an exercise or workout.  I guess it may not be an advantage all the time.  Go figure.)

Optimal Aerobic Development 

Scientific research has been able to identify how the aerobic system adapts and responds to certain training paces.  Physiologically we know:

  • Capillary development appears to peak at between 60 and 75 percent of 5k pace.
  • Maximum stimulation of myoglobin in Type I muscle fiber (Endurance Muscles) occurs at about 63-77 percent of VO2max. 63-77 percent of VO2max is about 55-75 percent of 5k pace.
  • Two researchers, Holloszy (1967) and Dudley (1982) published some of the defining research on optimal distance and pace for mitochondrial development. In short, Holloszy found that maximum mitochondrial development when running at 50-75 percent of V02 max. Likewise, Dudley found that the best strategy for slow-twitch, mitochondria enhancement was running for 90 minutes per outing at 70 to 75 per cent V02 max.

optimal-easy-run-pace

It is pretty clear now right?  Your optimal easy run pace for aerobic development is between 55 and 75 percent of your 5k pace, with the average pace being about 65 percent.

It’s also evident that running faster than 75% of your 5k pace on your long run has very little additional physiological benefit.

In fact, the research indicates that it would be just as advantageous to run slower as it would be to run faster.  Running around half of your 5k pace is pretty easy right?  Wouldn’t you know it, the evidence is clear that it still provides near optimal aerobic development.

Feel free to let me hear your feedback.  I welcome any other case studies, personal experiences and other research as I am always learning.  I provide you with the best content I can, but I have an open-mind and know that there may be other research out there that may negate information I post.

Carpe Vitam!

~IronGoof

Guest Goof Review – Flashdance:The Musical

Guest Goof Review – Flashdance:The Musical

I was courted to review Flashdance: The Musical at the Straz Center for their opening night on Tuesday, but other commitments kept me from attending.  Rather than give up my tickets and sacrifice a review I sent volunteers, Mrs. Miranda Lessie, Mrs. Amy Eck and Bennett Eck in my place.

This is my first Guest Blog as it is written by Miranda Lessie.

Flashdance: The Musical – Straz Center for the Arts, Tampa Florida.  19 Feb 2013

Move over Las Vegas, there is a new party in town and it’s called Flashdance. Can you remember the iconic water works scene in the original movie? You won’t have to imagine it for long once you sit down for this new musical.

Flashdance The Musical

Flashdance The Musical

If you love the 80’s music, hair styles, dancing and most of all the legwarmers, you will be right at home with this production. Even if you don’t adore these things, you will find yourself moving to the live orchestra which sounding more like an 80’s hair band than an orchestra. Perfect for this play.

The play starts off with a running start and gets right into the story line. It was a fast start for me who prefers more of a background building and character development. Once all the characters were introduced throughout the play, the story line begun to come alive and I fell in love with each character. Kudos to the Casting director who found the perfect character for each performer whom seemed to have been born to play their particular part. The leading lady Emily Padgett was a dead ringer for the original movie character.

I found some characters had a shaky start with their first song but each ended with a bang. The singing in the play was equal to, if not better than, the dancing. All the performers were superb singers, dancers and actors.

The set and lighting was a plus for this play. I never questioned what location we were at in the play because there was a huge display at the top of the stage at every scene change. My only question about the set is “just how did they do that water dance scene?” It was so perfect.

Costumes were exquisite but not over the top. They were very believable for the time period. They were also just on the edge of being rated a little more than PG-13. The language was appropriate for this type of play and slang was kept a very minimum.

As I walked out of the playhouse, I wondered why I didn’t attend more productions. I absolutely fell in love with this medium and will be back soon. The actors made this play but the scene and music made the actors. ~ Miranda Lessie

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Rock n’ Roll St Pete Race Recap…Lessons Re-Learned

Rock n’ Roll St Pete Race Recap…Lessons Re-Learned

The crazy thing about not running “Best Damn Race”, was I felt like I needed another race to replace it.  It wasn’t very long after I got home on Saturday, that I had typed in the URL for the Rock n’ Roll series and registered for the Rock N’ Roll St. Petersburg Half-Marathon.  I have no idea what the driving need was.  I have plenty of races on the calendar, so what was another half-marathon?  I decided to chalk it up to the hype of BDR and the fact I wanted to race.  Is that a distinctive trait in all endurance athletes?  I have no idea.  I humbly request that you take a few seconds, put yourself in my shoes and let me know if you think you would’ve done the same thing.

RnR7

Ben, Pete and I at the expo

I always get excited to go to the expos.  It isn’t the free stuff, or the vendors, it is the aura, the environment and the excitement of the race.  This expo was no different.  I wasn’t excited about any of the vendors or the new technologies, I was just excited to be there and take it all in.

Road ID did something new this year.  They were engraving on-site.  This was the first event I attended where this was an option.  What a great idea, and it was so easy.  Several kiosks were set up with their software running on it and all that had to be done, was pick the product (wrist band, dog tag, ankle band, etc), type the content of the engraving, slide your card to pay for it and they engraved it for you

Jessica Crate and I

Jessica Crate and I

right there.  That was my exciting highlight of the expo, besides seeing my friend Kat(Sneakers & Fingerpaints) volunteering with Brooks and Jessica Crate hanging out with Powerbar.

After hanging out with Pete and the gang and seeing a lot of friends at the expo, it was time to head home and chill out for the night.  Afterall, not only was I at the expo but I also did a little training ride on the bridges of Clearwater.

The next morning brought on the same excitement as always.  I didn’t wake up with the overall feeling of competing, I was more content with the positive anxiety rolling through my body at the idea of running.  Period.  I love races like this, especially since when I walk around either the start or finish I always seem to find someone I know.

RnR9

Cheryl & I at the Start

Driving to the event was not an issue.  My plan was to just find a place near Tropicana field, on the street or a cheep garage between the start and finish line, but at the last second I decided I really didn’t want to deal with it, so I ended up parking at the Trop for fifteen bucks.  This is one of the things I am not crazy about with the Rock n’ Roll race series.  Everything is an extra charge.  $15 dollars to park at the expo, $15 to park at the race, $5 for a shuttle from the finish line back to the start, $1 per runner you want to track, $5 for the runner to allow others to track and not to mention the $110 race fee.  I do enjoy the local races just for the fact they are usually all-inclusive.  Best Damn Race was the cure for all of this.  One price which even at full price was cheaper ($70), and it included parking, all the good food you can eat, and all the beer you could drink, but I digress.

My first perception was that this race was already increasingly superior to last year, at least for me, because mother nature was giving us a beautiful 57 degrees that morning vs my last experience with the race which was a very cold 33 degrees.   This for me was absolutely perfect.  The temperature would rise but by the time I finished it still would not have hit 70.  A small breeze filled the air with a clean scent, but I could not consider it wind.  Even though it was still a little chilly I decided to tough out the wait for the start in just my race attire instead of bringing anything extra for gear check.  As I turned the corner around Tropicana Field the start-line events came into my line of sight. There, looking down on the parking lot,  were three huge banks of port o’ lets, a few tents for info, volunteers, water and food, and of course the corrals.  My heart rate increased a little as the anxiety started to ramp up.

The Mini-Marathon was starting first, which was a 5k, and then the main event, the Half-Marathon, would start about 25 minutes later.  Making my way into the arena, recognizable faces started coming into

Stephanie & I at the start

Stephanie & I at the start

view.  This running community, no matter how much publicity it gets, is still relatively small, so racing seems to promote seeing the same faces at most of the events.  Even though I didn’t know a lot of the athletes by name they were recognizable, but of course it is not uncommon for someone to come up behind you and give you a big hug, or tap you on the shoulder to say hi.  I ran into Margie and her friend she was running with, as well as Cheryl, Stephanie, Mike, Wibke, and a bunch of others which calmed me down tremendously.  I decided that I would race this for fun and just let my legs decide what they were going to do.  What I decided and what happened were two totally separate ideas.

Around 7:25 the corrals were filled and as I was bib number 1062 I was to start in corral number 1.  The crowd noise was diminished to a slight whisper as this 13-year-old girl gave us a beautiful rendition of our national anthem, the gun went off and we were on our way.

My legs felt really good, my breath flowed easy and my form fell into place.  I was listening to my iPod, but the volume was low enough for it to be drowned out by the local bands that were playing on the course every couple of miles.  As I passed the first mile, I looked down at my Garmin which read 7:28 which was around 10 seconds behind the race clock, which made sense, but the pace was a little fast.  I decided to keep on going and let my legs decide.  My Garmin alerted me of my 7:30 pace at the end of the 2nd mile which turned out to be about a tenth of a mile

Feeling good

Feeling good

before I reached the race clock.   This is not uncommon with races.  The GPS signal grabs satellite data every three seconds and within a city, sometimes it does not make a connection for a few passes depending on buildings, and a variety of signals that can interfere with the accuracy.  I where a foot pod to record my cadence as well as fill the gaps when the satellite is not available, but the algorithm that fills the gaps will not do so until I have recorded the history at the end of the event.

When I crossed mile three at a time very close to my 5k PR time, I knew that I was at a pace that was way too fast for my fitness level at this time, but I was feeling really good, so against my better judgement I continued.  My pace stuck at a range in-between 7:26-7:40 until mile 8 and that is when it caught up with me.  Even though I was sticking to my nutrition, I started to feel the ache in my legs, and the tightness in my chest.  I got a hold of my breathing checked my posture, leaned in a little more and kept going, but unfortunately, my pace for the next 3 miles steadily increased.  I was pretty consistent with the people around me up to this point.  I played cat & mouse with a few of the runners, and I was passing people here and there and feeling pretty good about it, but for the last few miles, I would start to get passed.   Between, nine and ten, I saw Ben

Seeing a familiar face.  Thanks Ben Mena

Seeing a familiar face. Thanks Ben Mena

Mena on the side taking photos.  A familiar face usually helps, so I turned toward him and mucked for the shot, pretending I felt a lot better than I actually did.  My legs started getting heavier as we headed toward a small bridge, and I noticed Jessica Crate heading the opposite way toward the finish line, along with a lot of other familiar faces in that elite athlete group.  Just on the other side of the bridge my watch alerted me to mile 11 and a lap time of 8:31.  Out loud I yelled at myself, “Are you f***ing kidding me?” which gained me a few smirks and a couple of double takes from the others around me.  I assessed my form, and my efficiency and noticed I was pretty much jacked up, so I slowed my breathing, lifted my arms to put me back in the right posture, tucked my hips and leaned from my ankles.  I glided through the next mile at was alerted that I covered it in 8 minutes flat.  “Better”, I thought to myself, but I was weakening and I knew it.  I only had 1.1 miles left and while no matter what the finish line would be crossed, but it would be the longest mile of the race.

In a period that felt like two minutes went by when I saw Jessica running the opposite way, which could only be her cool down run, when I yelled and waved and before I knew it, she was in front of me.  Yelling at me to stay with her.  Her commands kept calling my ego to release anything I had left.  “Bring your

Elite Athlete Jessica Crate

Elite Athlete Jessica Crate

arms up, relax and let’s do this!”, is what I heard from her as I started leaning more and lifting my legs.  “400 meters Brad kick it into gear, c’mon let’s go!” is what sparked my kick.  I could see the finish line, it was right there all I had to do was take everything I had and just push to get there.  Jessica’s last words to me were “50 meters left, GO!!!!” and I took off with everything I had left.  Honestly, it hurt, but the pain subsided the nanosecond I crossed the timing mat.  The race clock said 1:45 on the nose when I crossed and I was disappointed in my time, but not in my effort.

My chest was tight, my back started to twinge a little as I retrieved my medal, took photos and started gathering after race treats.  Water, Gatorade, chocolate milk, bananas, strawberries, granola bars were basically shoved into my hands and I hadn’t even left the finish corral.   I didn’t know what to do with it all, but  I thought the race should really hand a plastic bag to the finishers so it could be collected without effort.  After all, we all just ran 13.1 miles, the blood isn’t exactly flowing to our brains.

Sexiest woman on the course Karen D.

Sexiest woman on the course Karen D.

I found a nice secluded spot to drop all my goodies, and start my post-run routine of lunges, stretches and squats before I started socializing.  I caught Jessica at the VIP tent and thanked her for bringing me in and then proceeded to hang with Tara Lee, Cheryl, Karen, Teresa, Holly, Mike, Brian, Stephanie and who knows how many others at the beer tent while we listened to Sean Kingston play live on the stage of North Shore Park.

I didn’t pay for shuttle ticket out of principal, and I kinda decided prior to the race I would just run back, which was probably going to be more of walk by the way I felt.  I said my goodbyes to friends at the beer tent and headed back to the VIP area to say goodbye to Jessica, when she told me that she parked at the Trop as well, so we could just run together.  “You know, I don’t run as fast as your slowest jog.”, I told her, but she just blew that statement off and we ran back.  When I say we ran, I am not kidding.  This girl runs like the wind and even though we were keeping a good pace for me, I know she had to keep looking back and slowing down.  I will say, when I reached the car, I felt

In the beer garden

In the beer garden

pretty good.  Looser and more agile.  This was a feeling I was going to have to remember.  All in all, 16 miles for the day wasn’t to shabby.

Have you ever run again after a hard race? How did you feel?

Carpe Viam!!

Catching back up with the Goof

My intention for re-starting this blog was to write more often, but the more I want to write, the more I find I have less to write about.  I have been reading a lot of blogs lately.  I enjoy reading them when I have the time, the only problem I am having is I am having way too many “A-HA” moments.  I read a great post and think to myself, “I should have written about that”, or “that was a great idea”, or the famous “I was going to write about that too.”  The issue I am having is being original and unique.  What does this mean exactly (as you may be scratching your head going, ok Goof, get on with it already)?  It means I have two choices.  As I peruse the new group I have been welcomed into, The Tampa Bay Bloggers, I notice two distinct kinds of blogs, the knowledge based, and the journal.  While both can provide very interesting information, I find that the latter can become a little monotonous.   Now for me, it doesn’t matter because I know, or am getting to know, most of the journal type bloggers and I enjoy reading those, but if I wasn’t associated with them, would I really want to read them?  I am not quite sure.

My struggle is that I want my posts to be creatively amusing while being interesting in a way where one of three things comes out of each post for each reader.  1) You laugh (or at least smile), 2) learn something, or at least remember that you learned it, or 3) you are emotional moved to some sort of action.  I don’t care if you end up being incredibly angry or even angry at me, if you are moved in some way I think I may have accomplished my goal.  Now is this too much to ask?

Susan & friend at WHM 2012

Regressing back to the title of this blog “Catching back up with the Goof”, let me give you the latest chronological items.

I was ecstatic to see my friends run the Women’s Half Marathon the weekend before Thanksgiving.  I had the opportunity to go out and cheer once again for a certain group of running and tri peeps and then being surprised to find even more women I knew that were running.  Kudos go out to Kat from Sneakers n’ Fingerpaints, Beka from Rebecca Roams, Anderson, Sarah, Jessica from Jet City Espresso, Elisa, Caitlin from Live, Sweat, Sleep, Repeat, Susan, and all the others out there I am probably missing.  It was a race that was a pleasure to watch and not just because there were a lot of fit and hot looking women in spandex(get your mind out of the gutter), but because the energy was higher than really a ton of races I have been a part of.  Maybe there is something to this “Girl Power” thing.  Can we harness it as a natural resource?  Can we use it in our cars? (Hey – get your mind out of the gutter I said.)

At least my sister,  Millie was happy
to see me.  I think.

Thanksgiving was very uneventful.  Thursday I worked out and hung out by myself for a while and then had dinner at Amy & Erik Eck’s home (my friend and coach).  I had the honor of hanging with a lot of great people to include the little new Godsend, Bennett Erik Eck whom is now just a couple of weeks old.  He is getting to be pretty adorable, if I do say so myself, and I am not being biased because I happened to (almost) be there at his birth.  That may be a whole other post I may need to write. (Note to self – see paragraph 1.)  There was plenty of delicious Paleo based food and a few dishes that were not so much, but everything was amazing.  After a long walk to help the digestion process I headed home and to bed due to my departure from Tampa Bay International Airport on the 6am flight to Chicago and my family’s belated Thanksgiving.  Needless to say Friday, family came over, there was conversation, there was food, there was more conversation, everyone went home, and I went to sleep.  The End.

Sunday, I was privileged to hang out at Moretti’s Pizza & Italian Restaurant with a very good friend from my high school years whom my influence had/has steadily increased his appetite for triathlon(patting myself on the back).  We have been continuing to keep in touch through email, phone and text, sharing information on races, plans and techniques.  He started swimming last year at this time right after the Chicago Marathon and last March/April timeframe competed in his first indoor sprint triathlon, followed by a couple more and finishing with his first Olympic in September.  Needless to say I was pretty proud of Big Guy last year.  Yes, his nick name was, and still is “Big Guy”.  Mine was “Bagelman”…go figure. (Pause for laughter)  Anyway, it was great to hang out eat a little pizza, watch the Bears kick some royal Viking butt and talk triathlon.

That left getting up at 3:30am on Monday for a 6am flight home to be able to put in a full days work.  I really didn’t think we had to leave as early as we did, but I was totally 100% wrong.  I made to the gate with barely 5 minutes to grab some McDonald’s coffee and ascend the jetway before taking off.   Security on Monday was brutal, but the flight was uneventful.  Thank you Southwest Airlines.

That is all I have for today.  I do have ideas vetted out for future posts and maybe some new developments in my coaching career that are starting to take shape.  All that and more to come.

Carpe Viam!

Rev 3 Florida 70.3 Race Recap

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pete, Jamie and I before the race

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

Carola and I


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jamie, Pete and I afterwards

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

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

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

Carpe Viam!