About Me

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Texas, United States
Welcome to my blog. What is a triathlon? It's a swim, bike and run usually in that order. My goal is to give exposure and insight to triathlons along with encouraging living a healthy life style. My post will also contain my collective thoughts pertaining to my training experiences. Feel free to send an email to ej@trilifeblog.com with any feedback or questions you may have. facebook: www.facebook.com/TriLifeBlog

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 Year In Review

As the year 2013 comes to a close I’d like to hear of your accomplishments no matter how big or small. Please take a second to share a story or two and post it on my timeline https://www.facebook.com/TriLifeBlog or the Tri Junkie FB page timeline https://www.facebook.com/groups/TriJunkie/. You deserve the recognition, you worked hard for it!

I've been fortunate to be able to live this healthy lifestyle and to share my experience and thoughts with others. I enjoy hearing about other’s success stories and being able to help out where I can to get them to their goals.

Bandera 50k
This year I had a couple goals not all were met, but I'm still grateful for being able to do what I love. I initially wanted to spend the first half of the season doing triathlons and the second have of the season focusing on trail running. Texas was going to be an A race for me and as luck would have it I ended up being ill the week leading up to IM Texas. I would have to settle for a training day effort.

I ended up competing in 31 events in 2013 made up of 5 triathlons, 4 duathlons, 2 off road triathlons, 9 road runs, and 11 trail run races. Several of these races were to support friends or non profit organizations I’m associated with. I ended up with two “A” races for the year. Both were trail running events, Bandera 50k and Vermont 50.  I ended up approaching all other events as a hard training day. For a complete listing of my 2013 events please visit this link. Ignore the 2012 in the link it will take you to the right page. J http://www.trilifeblog.com/p/2012-race-schedule-and-results.html
Vermont 50

There was a lot less swimming for me after May which I’ve found I’ve missed doing. My training also took a turn in October. For the first time I hired a coach. The approach is much different than what I’m used to. The training volume is much lower, but the intensity levels are higher. I’m using this training to prep for Bandera 100k and Rocky Raccoon 100 mile trail run. I’ve had a few set backs in my training with an ongoing knee issue that surfaced a week before Vermont 50 mile run. I’m hoping it will be a non issue in a few weeks.

Xterra Cameron Park
This year I also ventured into my first off road triathlon, Xterra Cameron Park. I put this guy on my calendar to help me prep for the off road bike portion of the HHH Triple threat. I had no off road bike experience and wanted to get some race experience before the HHH event. Several Tri-Junkies made the trip to Waco for the Xterra event. It was quite an experience as we found ourselves on one of the toughest off road bike courses in Texas. We all suffered some scrapes and bruises, but in the end it was a good time had by all. Most of the same group also raced the C ME Dirty Off Road Tri a couple months later.

I had one more first which I must mention, Spartan Beast. I knew going into this race that it was going to be a challenge. I had done a few mud races in the past, however when comparing the obstacles and the course, well there is no comparison. If an obstacle was missed your gift was 30 burpees. Each set easily tacked on 2 ½ to 3 ½ minutest to your overall time.

Spartan Beast in Glen Rose was just that, a Beast. There was no course description, aside from 12 plus miles, and yes, the plus came into play. The course length ended up being closer to 15 miles. Several sections of the course were freshly bushwhacked for the race. I’ll try and get a blog entry out on this race that will go in more detail. For now I’ll just say this course ranked up there as one of the toughest events I've done. 

2013 training/race year was solid all the way around. It was filled with good friends and great times. I’m looking forward to training, racing, and seeing you all reach your 2014 goals.

Xterra Cameron Park Off Road Triathlon

Head for the Hills
Vermont 50 Trail Run


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

2013 Hotter'n Hell Triple Threat Review

The purpose of entry is to give an insight on the Wee Chi Tah triple threat challenge. This challenged is a part of the Hotter N Hell weekend. It is comprised of a chip timed 11 mile mountain bike race, 100 mile road endurance ride and a ½ marathon trail run. The events are spread though out the weekend, beginning with the mountain bike race on Friday, moving to the 100 mile endurance bike ride on Saturday and finishing with the ½ marathon trial run on Sunday.

I had my eye on this event over the past couple of years.  In 2011 I found out about this event I was unable to work it into my calendar. I had already made plans with my fellow Tri Junkies to do “To Hell and Back” bike ride. We basically rode our bikes to Wichita Falls from the outskirts of Fort Worth, did the 100 mile endurance ride, and road back. I used it as part of my IM Florida training. Here’s a little write up on that experience. http://www.trilifeblog.com/2011/08/to-hottern-hell-and-back-recap.html

In 2012 I was able to fit it onto my calendar, but I was unable to sign up because the mountain bike event sold out. There are only 225 slots available per category. If your category sells out you cannot get onto the Triple Threat challenge. In 2013 I made it a point to register early. I wasn't sure if the mountain bike would sell out again, but I decided not to chance it.

Registration for the event can be a bit confusing. There are two separate signups to enter the challenge. You must register for the mountain bike and ½ marathon trail run on one sign up. You then have to sign up for the 100 mile endurance ride separately. You will also need a one day cycling license to participate in the mountain bike race. You can purchase that online or at packet pick up.

Packet pickup was at the Bridwell Ag Barn instead of the MPEC building, where the 100 mile endurance packet pickup took place. The Wee Chi Tah crew change up their approach this year, and combined all three bibs into the single packet. This worked out really well. While the non Triple Threat participants were waiting in line to get their HHH bib at the MPEC building, I was able to walk into the Exhibit Hall, and pick up my goodie bag without waiting in line.

The mountain bike and ½ marathon event hosted by Wee Chi Tah was put together well. Not having the time to ride the trail ahead of time, I liked the idea of the mountain bike race and ½ marathon trail run taking place over the same course. I didn't know what to expect on the mountain bike race, but it gave me the knowledge of the course for the trail run.  The course was well marked and the aid stations were strategically placed well.

I’m new to mountain bike riding and consider myself a beginner. I was pretty comfortable on this trail. I had a couple falls, self inflicted and I had to unclip maybe 5 times. The path was real clean so it made for a smooth ride. It also made for a fast ½ marathon trail run. There were minimal toe grabbers on the trail. The biggest challenge on the trial was the soft loose dirt for the bike and switchbacks for the run. The trail is mostly single track with a lot of switchbacks. It’s not too technical, but it’s technical enough to keep from getting bored. There are several obstacles on the course which made for some fun. This is a clip of the mountain bike race to give you a better insight on what to expect.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wdeVmBweZFE

The Triple Threat participant’s bibs were a different color than the normal 100 mile endurance rider bibs. On Saturday for the 100 mile endurance race we were allowed enter through the front of the start line. We didn't have to plow through the crowed to get a good position. This worked out real well for me as a buddy of mine and I go to the start line with maybe 5 minutes before the start time.

Both the mountain bike race and the trail run gave out nice finisher medals. The endurance 100 mile ride also provided a finisher medal. All Triple Threat participants who completed the challenge received a slice of wood with a finisher engraving on it. 

I've completed two HHH rides prior to this year’s Triple Threat challenge. Competing in this challenge greatly enhanced my overall experience. I’ll more than likely participate in this event again next year. I truly had a blast at this year's event. For more information on the Triple Threat please visit the following link. http://www.hh100.org/events/wee-chi-tah-events/

One last thought fairly irrelevant to the Triple Threat, but I made mention on a Facebook post that I would blog about this. On Saturday I ended up riding closer to 110 miles, and 30ish of those miles I had to hammer alone. My inner thigh areas begin to cramp up during the last 10 miles of the ride. After completing the ride my quads were pretty trashed and my hip flexors were talking very loudly. I had the ½ marathon trail run to the following day, so I decided to give the CryoUSA treatment a try.

I spoke with one of the reps on Friday at the exhibition. The service is supposed to speed up recover and improve performance. The treatment lasted roughly 2 minutes. The process requires you to strip down to your underwear. You also wear socks and gloves. Once in the device the process will get your skin’s surface temperature to approximately 30 degrees Fahrenheit. For the details on how the process works please visit http://go-cryo.com/about.html

Aside from the CryoUSA treatment I kept to my normal recovery plan. That included compression pants, stretching, recovery drink, hydration and food. Sunday came around, and I didn't know what to expect from my legs once I started the trail run. The first mile or so was flat and fast. I kept what I thought was a comfortable pace. Once I hit the trail I readjusted the pace and found another comfort zone. Through the duration of the ½ marathon trail run I had no issues with muscle fatigue or cramping. I was able to keep the pace I wanted, and finished up strong. After the two previous days of racing I walked away with a third place overall finish in the ½ marathon trail run. I can’t say for certain that CryoUSA was the main contributor to my successful race, at the same time I cannot argue that it wasn't. In the end I will give CryoUSA another shot. They are located here in Dallas. I’d like to test it with some other upcoming events.

Thank you for reading this blog entry. As always feel free to email me any questions or comments you may have.


Thursday, August 22, 2013

Capt'n Karl's 60K Trail Run Recap

Oh boy, where do I begin? There were two first for me going into this event. One it was going to be my longest run, and two it was going to be my first night time running event. The race took place in Colorado Bend State Park, the Texas hill country.

A few weeks leading up to the race I took time to put in a few night time run sessions on the mountain bike trails of River Legacy Park. The goal was to try and get accustomed to running with a head lamp. While training I noticed that having a head lamp on wasn’t the only thing I had to adjust to. There was also depth perception of the trail. There were several times on this non technical trail I had missteps. I spoke with a few trail running friends, and a hand held light was also recommended. I ended up purchasing one the week before the event.

This was a cup free event, meaning there were not going to have any cups at the aid station. Runners would have to carry their own bottles if they wanted fluids. The day before the race the 7 p.m. DFW temperature hovered around 99 degrees.  This had me concerned about running out of fluids. I planned on carrying a handheld which would contain enough liquid nutrition for a 3 ½ hour run. I didn’t want to mess with my nutrition bottle, so as suggested by a friend I ended up carrying a plastic icing decorating bag. It was triangle shape which made it easy to drink out of, and I could quickly roll it up and carry it with me to the next aid station.

I drove into the race site the day of the race. I picked up my race packet , and listened to the pre race meeting. The race director stated that if we found ourselves ducking limbs we were pretty much off course. He also mentioned that last year’s winner was running the 60k again. I was glad he was there, because at least I knew that one person knew the route.

Before the start of the race I ran across a fellow trail runner wearing huaraches, a sandal some use for trail running. For those who do not know what a huarache is, it literally is a sandal. There is no protection other than the thin piece of leather between your foot and the ground. I spent a few minutes talking to this person about his training with the shoe. Before leaving the conversation I asked him if he was going to race in them. He said he was faster in a normal shoe, and would probably use them for the 60k race.

The race was scheduled to start at 7 p.m. and we had until 7 a.m., a 12 hour window to finish the course. The 60k consisted of a two 30k loop route, with 4 aid stations. On the second loop there were designated cut of times to insure all participants were off the course by 7 a.m. I approached this race as a training run, and my plan for this race was to try to run the first loop with the front runners. I was hoping I could stick with them to allow me to get to know the trail before it got dark. After the first loop I figured I would slow down. I wasn’t sure how my legs would hold up or if I would be able to keep moving for the duration of the 60k. Prior to the 60k my longest run was a 50k so I was going to test limits at this race.

I toed the starting line with a bunch of strangers. I felt a bit out of my element, and had no idea what lied ahead.  As the gun went off I found myself jogging with the front group of 8 or so runners. The first segment of the race was a gradual uphill climb. It was a mix of single track and non single track trail. There were rocks through most of the first segment and that would not change for the duration of the race. The first three miles made me think, and honestly made me worry about the night time portion of the run.

I had a hard time finding my footing as I constantly had to step on, over or avoid rocks. The rocks were not always in sight either. There were sections where the grass was laid over the rocks that made it next to impossible to plan your next step. A couple guys in the lead pack had a couple of toe grabbers. I was surprised that I made it to the first aid station without one. I knew I would have several before the race was done.

As the race progressed over the next several miles the pace was a bit quicker than I had anticipated. My legs felt really good and I was enjoying the run. Around mile 9 I was still hanging with the lead pack. We were on a flat non single track section running two wide. Casual conversation was going on in the between a couple runners. They were discussing 100 mile events they had done and were going to do. I looked down at my Garmin, and found we were running the section at a 6 minute pace. At that point I knew I was in the company of some very strong athletes. They were pushing/carrying me through this segment of the run.

I could tell that my trail running skills were nowhere close to the three other guys I was running with. They made running over the rocks and technical terrain look very smooth and easy. I truly was in awe to see them float over the treacherous terrain. Just like all other runners the experience guys also had had their missteps. On one section last year’s winner went down in front of me and rolled. He picked himself up and I grabbed his water bottle that went in the opposite direction. I asked if he was okay and he said he was fine.

At about mile 15 one of the runners in the lead group decided to start pushing pace on a very rocky downhill section.  It was the huarache runner, only he wasn’t wearing huaraches. He decided to go with a very minimums New Balance shoe. Last year’s winner also decided to push a bit. At about this time it started to get dark. I pulled my headlamp out of a pack I wore around my waist and put it on my head.

Up until this point I had maybe one to two small toe grabbers which did not cause me to go down, just trip up a bit. As the dark rolled in and the head light came on my race quickly changed. I notice my run naturally slowed down. At this point of the race it wasn’t because I was fatigued, but more so because of my body’s natural tendency to be cautious.

The only way I can explain this is to imagine walking into the front door of your house. You flip the lights on and you walk through the room without any hesitation. You’ve done this many times over.  You know exactly where furniture and other items are in the room.  Now if you walked through your front door with your room light off, even with knowing the exact placement of everything in your room, your mind naturally slows your body down as a precaution. These guys did not have that fear as they ran through the night.

As I completed the first loop I was sitting in 3rd place, and was 15 minutes ahead of my goal pace. I was having a great time, and was looking forward to the 2nd loop. The two guys in front of me were maybe ½ mile ahead. I knew my pace would slow down on the second lap, but I figured that would be the case of everyone else in the race.

Making my way through the second loop I was passed by two runners. They went by me looking smooth as silk. They glided over the rocky terrain throwing caution to the wind, running like it was day time. As awesome as they looked running past me, at the same time it made me sick to my stomach as it frustrated me. I knew they were on a whole other level of trail running and that skill would take some time to learn.

The second loop for me was a beat down. I had countless toe grabbers, and with maybe 5 miles left in the race I finally went down for the first time. Thankfully it wasn’t bad. I was able to brush off and pick up where I left off. The toe grabbers were taking their toll on my legs and feet. I could feel the blisters on my toes, and my hamstrings were fatigued.

I made my way through the last aid station. I knew it was all downhill from there. I was sitting in 5th place, and I had a solid chance of holding on if I could keep the toe grabbing count down. I made sure I took a few extra moments to drench my head with water, and top off my hand held for the final haul. I was moving and feeling good, I was ready to cross that finish line. As my luck would have it I had one more toe grabber, and that one did my left hamstring in.

I ended up cramping, and that forced me to stop and stretch my hamstring. After cramping once the chances of cramping again for me increase. At this point there wasn’t much I could do. I was taking in fluids, and extra salt wasn’t going to help. The cramp wasn’t caused by dehydration. It more so the combination of muscle fatigue caused by the sudden jolts of stomping my feet on rocks. With less than a couple miles to go I was just going to have to suck it up, and finish.

The last mile seemed like 5 miles. I was mentally ready to get to that last flat ¼ mile stretch of road. I made my way through the thick of the night and as I ran out of fluids I finally reached the last ¼ mile segment. It was a dirt road with no elevation change. I was still sitting in 5th place and at this point had every intention of holding onto it. It was on me to keep the position. I made a final push and thought if anyone caught me and passed me now they deserved the placing.

In the end I reached the finish line in 6 hours and 9 minutes. I successfully completed my first 60k trail run, and held onto 5th place. Overall I was satisfied with how the race played out. I felt I walked away more experienced and better prepared for my next trail run adventure.

I have to give props to the race director and his crew. I was impressed with the organization and support of the event. The aid stations and the aid of the park rangers were outstanding. They were stationed at every road crossing to make sure the runners were safe for the duration of the race.

Thank you for reading this blog entry. As always feel free to email me any questions or comments you may have.


Saturday, August 10, 2013

XTERRA Cameron Park Weekend

This write up is from an event I did at the end of June. I contemplated publishing it, after re reading it I felt it had some good information for those who have not experienced an off road triathlon or trail run. Here’s my Xterra weekend experience.

As the second half of the season starts to unfold I found myself headed to Waco for a trail run and off road triathlon. XTERRA hosts a trail run and off road tri series that travels around to several Texas locations. I had my eye on a few of the events earlier in the year, but due to my IRONMAN training, they did not fit my schedule.

The purpose of the XTERRA weekend was twofold. First, I wanted to get a long training run done in a different location, and second I wanted to get race like experience with on my mountain bike. I was signed up for a 21k trail run on Saturday, and I was signed up for a “Sport”, equivalent to a “Sprint” non off road triathlon on Sunday. I will admit the trial run was going to be a bit more meaningful to me in respect to effort over the off road triathlon I was going to do the following day. My only goal for the off road triathlon was simply not to hurt myself on the mountain bike course.

On Saturday morning, the day of the race, I found myself waking up at 4 a.m. to drive to Waco from the DFW area. Taking less than an hour and a half, the drive wasn’t bad at all. I was afraid of sitting for an extended period of time before a race, but that ended up being a non factor. Race time was set for 8:10 a.m., and I was there with maybe 50 minutes to spare. I knew very little about the course. I had seen it on a map, but maps do not show roots, holes, rocks, etc. I knew we had about a 400 meter open area start before we got to the infamous Jacob’s Ladder.
As I warmed up for the race I noted the two younger Welsch  sisters were lined up for the 21k. For those who are not familiar with these two girls, ages 13 and 11, they made national news last year for their running accomplishments. The older sister was the female overall winner in last year’s 21k XTERRA Cameron Park trail race. They also compete in multi sport events. I was glad to see them out there and wanted to see how they would handle the course.

The race director called all runners to the starting line and we were off. The two young girls took off like something was chasing them. They were easily running a low 5 minute pace until reaching the Jacob’s ladder. Jacob’s ladder is a cement stair case that goes pretty much straight up, for what feels like forever. It’s defiantly a quad killer, and the steps are not normal steps they are a good 6 inches taller than normal steps. They do not favor the shorter athletes.

I was the 4th or 5th person to the stairs. I tried running up the stairs grabbing onto the handrail. That run quickly turned into a fast power walk up the stairs. I made it to the top of the steps and onto the road which lead us to the trail. My recovery time wasn’t too bad. I was able to get into a stride fairly quickly. I grabbed a cup of water at the first aid station and poured it over my head before darting onto the trail.
The trail itself had a mix of everything. There were some nice steep climbs and descends along with your roots, rocks and holes. I wasn’t expecting  the trail to be as technical as it was, but I was okay with it. The 21k was made up of two 6.5 mile loops. Part of the 21k trail would overlap the Sunday’s off road bike course. I enjoyed running the segment because it gave me a bit of an insight on what I should expect for the mountain bike portion of the off road triathlon.

I was able to get through the 21k course finishing 3rd overall. I ended up adding on another 10k before the morning was over completing a 31k for the day. My goal for Saturday was to get a long run in. I was more than happy with the trail and the run work I was able to get in. After all was said and done I ended up doing Jacob’s Ladder 4 times on Saturday, and ended up running it two more times on Sunday
The Sunday’s off road triathlon consisted of a 750 meter swim, 8 mile mountain bike, and 5k trail run. I got a good feel for the trail Saturday and I knew Sunday’s bike was going to be a bit of a challenge. A friend of mine told me to stay within myself on the course and that’s exactly what I was going to do.

Sunday morning came, and I set my gear up in their transition small modest area. Unlike the regular triathlons these XTERRA events have a much smaller turn out. Surprisingly there were more people signed up for the longer distance course than the shorter distance course. That didn’t bother me one bit, because it meant there would be less traffic on the bike trail.

This was an open water swim, with a single wave start in the Brazos’ river.  I took a look at the buoys and felt the course looked long. I ended up coming out of the water and making my way into transition in 22 minutes. I wasn’t happy with the swim time, and chalked it off to a long swim course. As I approached the transition area all I could think about was surviving the bike leg.   

When I signed up for this event I was certain they would take it easy on the beginner, the shorter distance event. Well, I ended up being completely off. We ended up riding the exact same bike course as the longer distance race. As I hopped on my bike I kept telling myself not to do anything out of my comfort zone.  I took it real easy and unclipped fairly frequently.  I walked and pushed my bike up and down several climbs I also unclipped for a few turns. I even went down one section with one leg clipped and one unclipped. As challenging as it was, in a weird twist, it was also plenty of fun. I’m sure that not falling off my bike had something to do with it.

The last mile and a half of the mountain bike course was pretty flat. I could feel my quads were fairly trashed from both the previous day’s trail running event, and the mountain bike ride I just endured. As I approached T2 I was relived and ecstatic about completing the bike ride without injury. There are times in your life when you get that care free, shot of adrenaline feeling. I somehow had that feeling in T2. I think it was the mental thought of getting off the bike and onto the trail run. My body was excited to get back to something it was comfortable with.
The last leg was a 5K trail run. Aside from pushing up Jacob’s Ladder the rest of the trail was a walk in the park. I felt like I was flying through the course as I passed several athletes along the way. Running the course the day before was a huge help. I did have one hiccup on the run. I took my eyes off the trail for a second to wipe some sweat off my forehead, and clipped my foot on a rock/root, who knows what it was. I all I know was that I bit it, and went down face first. I was fortunate to catch myself with my hands, and was able to quickly get back up to speed with no physical injuries. I will admit I was annoyed at myself for know better than to wipe my sweat before checking the trail up a head. I went the whole bike ride without falling and ended up falling on the run course, ha!

I ended up with the fastest 5k run of the dayl. I was 2 minutes faster than the next fastest time. At the end of the day I was glad I got the XTERRA off road experience under my belt. I walked away feeling better prepared for HHH Triple Threat race coming up at the end of August.
For those interested in doing an off road Triathlon for the first time, my advice is to scout the course ahead of time before you sign up. There are much easier ones out there. Get some rides in to know where your comfort level is. The more you ride the more comfortable you’ll become on the trail. Just like everything else, it won’t happen overnight, but it will happen.

Thank you for reading this blog entry. As always feel free to email me any questions or comments you may have.


Wednesday, June 19, 2013


What to do post IRONMAN, or post any event for that matter? That’s a question many of us face. In 2011 when I completed my first full IRONMAN event I jumped quickly back in the saddle. That Thursday I did a hill ride on my bike that put my abdomen out of commission for over six months. It was a hard lesson learned, and not one easily forgotten.

Each and every one of us is different. We train, hydrate, recover, etc differently. Learning our own limits is very difficult to do. We gauge our training based on our race goals. Some of us have a finishing time in mind some of us just want to finish. Whatever our race goal may be we must do one thing, and that is listening to our body.

IRONMAN Texas was on my calendar this May. I made the decision way in advanced to take two weeks off. That didn’t mean I sat around and did nothing. I ended up having two weeks of unstructured workouts. I ran, road and swam when I wanted. If I didn’t want to work out that day, I didn’t.
The week after IRONMAN Texas was Memorial Day weekend. I got a chance to go to Beaver Bend State Park in Oklahoma. I ended up doing a couple trail runs in the park. Aside from the trail running, I ate horribly and did a whole lot of nothing. Again nothing structured, and it was awesome!

The second week after IRONMAN Texas was also unstructured. I believe I ran a little and even took my mountain bike out for a spin. For those who know me, know I do not ride my mountain bike. I’ve had it for five years, and road it less than 10 times. It was a nice change of pace.

I had an event on my calendar two weeks after my IRONMAN event, the Merrell Down and Dirty 10k trail run. I normally do not partake in these types of events, but again I wanted to change it up a bit so I intentionally signed up for this event early in the year to use as a post IRONMAN fun thing to do.

Post IRONMAN week three I took a look at my race calendar and decided to start my structured workouts again. As some of you may know, I’ve decided to change my focus for the second half of the 2013 year. I’m signing up for a 50 mile trail race that takes place in September, so my weekends will now be consumed with longer trail runs. If all goes to plan I’ll have my first 100k and 100 mile trail run in before the first half of 2014 is over.

I’ve also changed my riding focus up a bit. I signed up for the HHH triple threat which contains a mountain bike race, so I’m now putting in some time on my mountain bike.

I’m nervously looking forward to an off road tri which is coming up this weekend. I’m using it to simulate the HHH race feel. I’ve never been a big fan of not having full control of my body when racing. That’s the feeling I get when I’m on a mountain bike. I’m a one year old when it comes to mountain biking. A fellow Tri Junkie gave me some good advice, “Stay within yourself on the bike portion”. I’m going to make it a point to take this event light and easy. I just want to get the race experience under my belt.

Here I am five weeks after my IRONMAN event. I have some new goals set in front of me, and I’m healthy! Again lesson learned from 2011, so back to the question, what to do post event? Relax, go out and have a bit of fun. You trained hard to achieve your goal. Let it sink in and enjoy your life’s victory! Your mind and body will thank you for it. In the end it will make you a better athlete.

Thank you for reading this blog entry. As always feel free to email me any questions or comments you may have.


Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Ironman Texas 2013 Race Recap

I took a few days to let this one sit in before I began thinking about it. For those new to an Ironman event, it is made up of a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike and 26.2 mile run. This makes for 140.6 miles of work to gain the Ironman title.  The past two years I had volunteered at this event. I was done spectating and was ready to give this course a go.  

This was going to be my second full Ironman event. I trained with the intention of hitting a low 10 to sub 10 hour finish time goal. Two weeks prior to the event I felt really confident. My swim and bike were holding steady and my run was real strong. I was in the best running shape of my life.
Most of us train for months on end for an Ironman event. We spend hours upon hours training our body to be prepared for race day. I know there are race day performance limitations we cannot control, such as a flat tire or transition bag misplacement. There are other elements which are hit or miss such as nutrition and hydration.

I thought of and accounted for all the elements which I felt would better my chances for a great race day. Eight days before May 19th, race day, I ended catching a bug. The thought of getting sick before the event had not crossed my mind. My throat was sore, I started to feel weak and low on energy. I tried upping my Vitamin C and drank some Airborne. As the evening came I came down with a fever. I knew it was too late and I was going to have to let the bug run its course.
Without going into too much detail, I had hoped I had a 24 hour bug, but unfortunately it turned into five nights of fighting off a fever. I also had a sore throat, a horrible cough and mucus.  The only positive going for me was I was into my two taper weeks. I was hoping that rest would allow me to kick the bug and be fully recovered before race day.

I started feeling my energy levels comeback Thursday 17th. My throat was still a bit sore. I was also coughing up a lung and could not stop from spiting up mucus.  From the time I caught the bug all the way through race morning I did not get one night of sound sleep. I was either fighting a fever and/or waking up in the middle of night because of a cough and mucus.

Friday, the day before the race, I was starting to get real nervous. I knew my health and energy levels were going to be a coin flip on race day. I was especially worried because I knew it was going to be a really hot day and my plans of acclimating to the weather fell at my waist side when I got sick. At this point I felt there was a lot going against me, but I was still going to keep a positive attitude about the race.
I got maybe 5 hours of non continuous sleep the night before the race, however on race morning I felt awake and refreshed. I was in a good mood and wasn’t concerned about the race. I convinced myself that I was going to have a good day regardless the outcome.

I had heard stories of athletes treading water for 5 to 10 minutes before the age group swim started. I’m a sinker not a floater and this was going to be really hard for me to do. A friend of mine suggested standing in the water by the dock. It was shallow enough for me to stand there without having to tread water. I can’t thank her enough for that awesome suggestion.

The swim start in an Ironman event is like no other event start period. When the gun goes off there are over 2000 athletes encaged in mass chaos. Arms and legs are flinging in all directions. There is kicking, pulling, scratching and bumping going on all at once. I had experienced this once before so I decided to stay as far right on the outside as possible. Even with that strategy I was still in the mix of all of it.

As the swim progressed and I found a rhythm. I couldn’t tell if I felt fatigued or where my energy levels were. I was too distracted by the cool refreshing lake water. It felt so good. All I wanted to do was enjoy every moment of it, because I knew the rest of the day was going to be anything, but cool. Approaching the swim exit I had no idea where I was in regards to my swim time. As I reached the swim out and started heading to T1, I took a glance at my watch and saw my swim split was 1 hr and 38 minutes. I was over 20 minutes slower than my goal time. I knew right then that I was going to make the call to turn the race into a training day.
I had two reasons for this decision. One, I knew that if my swim time was that off my body was not %100 percent recovered, so my 10/sub 10 hour goal time was out of the question. Two, and most importantly I didn’t want to risk injury or a relapse of being ill. The night before the race I had already explored this scenario, so I was at peace with my decision.

I spent nearly 12 minutes in T1. I took my time changing into my cycling gear, and decided to make a pit stop before heading out onto the bike course. My bike set up consisted of a white pair of Zoot calf compression sleeves, Zoot Icefil arm coolers, Specialized Trivent shoe (love the sockless feature) and Specialized Prevail helmet. Conditions were going to be way to hot for my taste to wear an aero helmet. The Prevail was a perfect fit for this event.
I walked out into the T1 bike area, and some athletes were running by me rushing to get onto the bike course. This was a change of pace for me. There was no reason for me to rush through transition so I took my sweet time. I walked up to my bike, pulled it off the rack, thanked the volunteers, and headed off to the mount line.


I knew I wasn’t 100%, and I was interested to see how that was going to affect me on the bike. There was a tail wind on the way out so it was hard to gauge my effort. As I approached mile thirty my energy levels were down, and my legs did not feel strong. I was bummed as I kept a race thought in the back of my head, wishing for some type of race miracle. I guess at this point the “training day” realization set in. It took a few minutes to shake off the disappointment. I knew I had to get my head back on track if I was going to finish this race. I focused on keeping a nice even pedal stroke to allow me to enjoy the ride and take in some of the scenery.
Approaching mile 50 the intensity of the sun begin to multiply. It all of a sudden turned into a hot miserable ride, and started to feel like survival mode. I wasn’t too concerned about my body reacting to the heat conditions. I felt my output effort wasn’t high enough to put me in danger of dehydrating.  Never the less I still took every opportunity to pour cold water on my body and arms sleeves at every aid station.

It was so hot on the ride that I could feel my skin heat up between aid stations. It was a stinging burning heat piercing heat. I also noticed that the cold water I poured into my front hydration unit would warm up before reaching the next aid station. I decided to make a stop at mile 80 to stretch, eat some nutrition, take in some extra fluids and try to keep my core temperature down. I think this was one of the smartest moves I made during the race. I literally took maybe 5 minutes just hanging out talking to the volunteers to allow me to cool off.

Mile 95 came around pretty quickly. I wasn’t pushing pace, and was trying to enjoy the ride into T2 when my inner growing area started to cramp up. This was not what I had expected. I slowed my bike pace down to allow for the cramp to work itself out. It was muscle fatigue setting in. I felt the 8 sick days were catching up to me. I proceeded to ride and a few miles down the road my other inner growing area also cramped up. I slowed pace again and allowed the cramp to work itself out.
I was less than 10 miles from the finish and I told myself stopping was not an option. I was hoping some mind over matter would get me to T2. I slowed my pace down to 17/18 mph. To complicate things further an excruciating pain on the tip of my left foot’s longest toe appeared out of nowhere. I didn’t’ have a blister and the toe was not rubbing against my shoe. I did not know why it was hurting, but it made for a miserable 10 miles.

The DNF thought crossed my mind for a second then I realized what I was considering. My mind had gone off on me and I had to real myself back in. I’ve never DNF a race and I wasn’t about to start even if I had to walk the marathon.
Though I wasn’t wearing a HR monitor I knew I was unable to get my heart rate up on the bike course. I would safely say my HR average was 125 to 135 the whole way through the bike course. Approaching T2 I knew I had a hot 26.2 mile run waiting for me. Would my toe hold up? Would my cramping seize? I was ready to get off the bike and find out. I was really hoping I would not have to walk the marathon.

The Run:
Entering T2 I handed my bike off to a volunteer. As hot as I was I surprisingly felt at calm and peaceful. I walked over to get my run gear bag and found a spot in the changing tent. I immediately grabbed two cups of water and poured one on my head and one on my back. I sat down and took my time getting out of my bike gear and into my run gear. I decided to take the arm coolers off as they were a bit to snug on my upper arm area. I wanted to be comfortable on the run course so they had to go.

I was in T2 for almost 10 minutes. It was a nice little breather. I got up and headed out the changing tent. I took a look at my Garmin and saw that I my bike split was 5:28. I was off again by 20 to 30 minutes, but this time it was expected since after my swim I had already accepted that my body was not race ready for the day.

Heading onto the run course I started to put a run plan together. At first I though I would run 5 miles at a time and walk an aid station. As I started my run, I felt pretty good. I decided to cruse and hold an 8 to 9 minute pace. As I approached the first aid station I thought to myself, that there was no reason for me to run 5 mile straight. I’ll just run between aid stations and walk through them. My new goal time was to finish between 6 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. I figured if I could get the marathon done in 4 hours that would allow me to hit that mark.

To my surprise I had a really good time on the run. I felt really bad for all my fellow athletes who were hurting out there. There were a lot of people hurting on that run course. There was little to no shade until after 6 p.m. I was very gracious to be able to put forth the effort I did. As I jogged between aid stations I ran into several North Texas triathlete friends. These were guys and gals I’ve become friends with over the past 4 years through living this healthy life style.

I stopped and walked or jogged with all of them. I carried on small conversations to see how their race was going, and words of encouragement were shared. I knew that my 8 to 9 minute per mile pace goal was going to be blown, but honestly I didn’t care. I was too busy enjoying the company on the run course. It felt like a social run, and brought back memories of when I paced a friend of mine in the White Rock Marathon this past December. I was genuinely enjoying the run, and I believe the key is that I did not feel pressured to race.
Please do not get me wrong, it was a very hot and brutal day. I believe my experience was a bit more pleasant then most because I turned the notch down on my race effort to practically nothing at all. It was a low zone training day and I think that’s what made the difference for me.

On the run course I at least 80 percent of the athletes were walking. These were people who had trained for months and months for this event. They were prepared to go the distance. What we were not prepared for was the heat and humidity Mother Nature was throwing at us.

The run course is a three lap course. On the third lap the shade started to set in, and there was a small breeze on a few sections of the course. As I clipped off the last few miles of the race I was in really good spirits, and was ready for the race to be over. The fans on the run course were great. They were full of energy cheering us on. As I ran my last ¼ mile to the finish line this experience was completely different than my IM Florida experience in 2011. I had a great time in Florida, because it was my first event. I remember racing and enjoying every second of it. IM Texas 2013 I found myself missing my goal, but still enjoying the event.

Overall I felt very fortunate to be able to get through the Ironman event. I knew many out there were suffering. At the end of my day I was able to get through the run in about 4 hours, again 40 minutes off my goal time. Though my initial goals were shot I was satisfied with my Ironman experience.  Yes, I would have loved to have been 100% for this race, but it simply was not meant to me. There will be other events other times.

I was impressed with all the fans that came onto the bike course to cheer us on. There were even locals who had nothing to do with the Ironman event sitting out on their lawn cheering and clapping. I also enjoyed the 3 loop run course. Normally I’m not a fan of loops, but on this hot brutal day seeing people you know 3 times through helps out tremendously.

I think there is something unique in each and everyone of us who go out and complete an Ironman. It’s something that can’t be explained. As armatures we do not do this for the money or fame, but for the love of the sport. This is something that we cannot be taught to love, we just love it. There are some of us out there who love this sport, but do not know it yet.  The main reason I started this blog in 2011 was to bring exposure to Triathlon and Duathlon events. With several distances to choose from, this is something than anyone of us can do. I enjoy sharing my experiences, and I can only hope that they motivate someone to get out there and try.

My race results:

Swim:    1:38:50

T1:          12:11

Bike:      5:28:04

T2:          9:54

Run:       4:03:04

Finish:   11:32:03

Div Rank: 51 Overall: 223

Thank you for reading this blog entry. As always feel free to email me any questions or comments you may have.



Tuesday, May 7, 2013

TexasMan X-50 Recap 05-05-2013

Cinco de Mayo, Sunday May 5th, marked the 3rd running of Dallas Athlete’ s TexasMan X-50 event. The race was held at Johnson Branch State Park on Lake Ray Roberts. What is an X-50? Well a few years ago it was introduced as a race distance between the Olympic distance and Half Ironman distance. A one mile swim, forty mile bike and nine mile run, would make up the X-50 distance. The race producers also host a Sprint and Olympic distance race in conjunction with the X-50 so there is a bit of everything for everyone.

This was a new distance for me and honestly it was a late add-on to my last bulky IM training week.  I had accumulated roughly 115 miles on the bike and 12 miles of running three days leading up to the event. I wasn’t concerned about my performance. I was going to treat this race as one last hard training session before IM Texas.
Transistion Madness
On race morning I was going to make a few last minute race decisions. I knew it was going to be cold, upper 40’s to low 50’s, and I planned on wearing toe booties on the bike to keep my toes from going numb. I also wore my compression calf sleeves and arm sleeves. I decided to add a pair of cold weather cycling gloves to my T1 setup. My legs normally warm up well and I figured my upper body would be fine considering the sun was rising.
I was looking forward to the open water beach start. I can’t think of any other races in the DFW area that offer a similar start. Walking to the beach with my wetsuit on, we had had 15 minutes before we hit the water. I was hanging around with some friends eagerly anticipating the race start. As the minutes ticked away my body decided it needed to use the urinal. All zipped up and with a hand full of minutes to the start, that potty break was not about to happen. It was mind over matter at this point.
The swim started and a couple hundred of us dashed into the lake. Several athletes immediately started to swim and several athletes ran as far as they could until it was too deep to run. There are several different strategies to a mass open water beach start. I chose to run as far as I could and to try and stay away from the masses during the swim. The first part of the swim was into the sun, as I approached the 500 meter mark I begin to realize how cold the water felt.  My feet were pretty uncomfortable. Luckily/unlikely other swimmers kept crossing over me and hitting me, that kept my mind off my feet.
It was a wetsuit legal event and despite the occasional run in with other athletes I ended up having a good swim. Though the race advertises a 1 mile swim, I think the swim was closer to 1,500 meters. My swim time was fast, too fast for a mile. As I exited the swim area my wetsuit was stripped off by the volunteers with no issues at all. I started jogging to T1 and noted how cold my feet were.
I hit T1 and dried off with my towel, and grabbed a pair of socks I had worn to the event. I normally do not race with socks however  I made a race time decision to put them on my feet during the bike. I was hoping they would warm up my toes. My hands were cold and wet, and I struggled slipping the cold weather gloves onto my hands. What felt like minutes upon minutes of wasted time, were probably 30 seconds. Though it was a training race I will admit it’s hard to turn off the competitive spirit. I had to remind myself that I was out here for training and the extra time in transition was fine and would be well worth it on the bike.
I exited transition and hopped on my bike. I didn’t know what kind of course to expect. I knew I was doing two loops and that there would be some overlapping Sprint and Olympic distance traffic on the second loop. The course ended up being a bit windy in some areas, holding me to a 13 mph to 17 mph pace. On the flip side there were a few areas where the wind helped me hit a 30 mph plus pace. My feet never warmed up on the bike and my toes ended up going numb. My legs also never quite warmed up. The course had several rolling hills, with some traffic. The streets were made up of mostly smooth surfaces. The sections that were not smooth had small stripped out smooth sections you could ride through. There was one water only hand up area on the course, I carried my fluids so It wasn’t an issue for me. The weather was also cool enough that I’m sure it wasn’t an issue for most.
Finishing my second loop I headed into T2 where I stripped off the gloves, shoes, socks and arm warmers. I slipped into my Zoots and was out on the run.  The he urge to urinate resurfaced about a fourth mile into the run I came across a park restroom. I knew I had to make a stop or my run experience would be miserable, so I quickly darted into the restroom. Though I physically felt a million times better after making the stop, but my legs did not feel right and my toes were completely numb. It took the better half of three miles of running before I felt my toes and was able to get into a comfortable run rhythm.

The run was pretty flat for the most part. There were a couple places you had to climb, but nothing too extreme. There were plenty of aid stations on the run handing out fluids and gels/GU packs. I’m not sure of the brand or kind, because I did not take any in. As the day heated up I made it a point to dump the water onto my head to keep my core temperature cool. My quads were feeling the strain of the week’s workout, and from the wind and rolling hills of the bike.  As I approached the finish line I decided to push the run pace for the last half mile or so. I ran through the finish took a deep breath and felt good about the race.
Tri Junkie Crew
In the end I swam my fastest 1500 to date so that was a huge positive for me. My bike time and run time were pretty much where I thought they would be going into the race. Over all I was happy with my efforts on the day.
The TexasMan X-50 was a well marked course. It takes place in a nice park area. The Dallas Athletes crew will host a similar event, Disco X-50 in July.  Their prices are a little steeper than some of the other events in the area, but the swag you get is well worth it. In my X-50 packet I received a cap, shirt and socks. At the end of the event everyone gets a finisher medal and a finisher shirt. I would expect the same swag for the Disco event.
Thank you for reading this blog entry. As always feel free to email me any questions or comments you may have.


Thursday, April 11, 2013

Ironman 70.3 Texas Recap 4-7-2013

This past weekend over 2,700 athletes were signed up to participate in what I would consider a friendly 70.3 course. It’s a great choice for a first time 70.3 course, training course or PR course. The swim wetsuit legal, the bike is flat and the run is flat. Those three elements make this course one of my favorite courses to race in. The weather can be hit or miss as it always is in Texas.

I raced this event in 2012 and decided to put it on my calendar as part of my training for IM Texas. I was coming off a 9 hour weekend block of training and decided to do what I would consider a half taper. That Monday before the event I felt a strain behind my right knee that ran from my upper calf muscle to the lower end of my hamstring. I decided to take Monday completely off to let it rest.
Tuesday came around and that strain was still there. I was a bit concerned at this point, and was hoping it was nothing serious. I was able to put in a run without any issues on Wednesday, but I could still feel the strain after completing the workout. I already had an appointment with Dr. Griffin on Friday and decided to wait until then to get it checked out. At the end of the week I cut out maybe 2 hours of cycling and kept the training intensity at an aerobic effort, knowing I was going to put in a good effort at the 70.3 event.

Coincidently last year I also suffered from a different injury that kept me from running three weeks leading up to 70.3 Texas. I was a bit annoyed, but understood its part of the sport. Dr. Griffin worked his ART magic. I used to think I had a high tolerance for pain until I met Dr. Griffin. I’ll take that minor moment of discomfort during his treatments because they produce results.

I arrived in Galveston on Friday and was able to pick up my packet and visit with some of the vendors. I had family come into town to meet me, so Friday was very low key. I ate at a decent time and caught up with my family. We ended up at the new Boardwalk area, which I thought was pretty cool. It had just closed when we got there so we were unable to go check it out. Time flew by on Friday and before I knew it, it was midnight. I wasn’t too concerned about the time as I knew I would get at least seven hours of sleep.

I had three things to do two things on Saturday, take my bike out for a test ride, check my bike into transition and prep my race gear. During my test ride the first thing I noticed as I turned onto the Seawall was the wind. It was blowing hard enough to move me around, and made me feel uncomfortable enough to keep me out of the aero position. I finished up with the ride and threw in a short 10 minute run. Physically I felt pretty good. Not sure how to describe it other than my legs felt fresh and energy levels were high.

I made it to bike check in and found my bike spot. I took some time to figure out the ins and outs of T1 and T2. I ended up using a light poll and a sign outside of transition to help guide me to my bike during the event. I made sure my gears, breaks and computer were working properly. There was not much else to do her so I visited the vendors one more time then got out of the sun.

As I worked on my gear bag that evening I realized that I forgot my 6oz hand held plastic bottle I normally run with. This turned me upside down for a few minutes. I was upset with myself for forgetting this item. The last thing I wanted to do was stress out before the event so I quickly came up with a plan B, which in this case was a kid’s vitamin water bottle with a sports top from the convenient store. I figured why not it’s just a container and should work just fine.

I knew Sunday the wind was going to die down a bit and that the temperatures were going to be hot and humid. This worried me because I had not trained in these conditions. I knew I could be affected along with many others who were not used to the South Texas weather. I made it a point to drink plenty of water and electrolytes on Saturday. I also drank a little concoction I’ve used for the past 3 years on Sunday morning to help prevent dehydration.

I ran a bit behind schedule on the day of the event. I arrived at T1 with 20 minutes to spare. I set my gear up, aired up my tires, and did one last bike inspection. I was going into this event with a hard training effort expectation. I had some goals in mind I wanted to hit and was eager to find out if I could meet them.

My wave started at 7:55 a.m. The water temperature was in the high 60’s. As my age group made its way to the dock to jump into the water there was this one athlete who did not have a wetsuit on. I jumped in and felt how cold the water was and could not image how cold this person was going to be once he jumped in. There is about a 5 minute wait between each wave. The MC announced all athletes need to be in the water we have 2 minutes till your wave start. That athlete without the wetsuit jumped in and when he came back up he was yelling all kinds of foul sayings in Spanish. I was dying of laughter inside. He was awake and ready to go.

As the swim started I was anxious to try out the bilateral breathing I had been working on. It was going well, but about 500 meters into the swim I was kicked in the face and had to stop to fix my goggles. For whatever reason I felt I could not get into a rhythm after that incident. I switched back to a one side breathing technique, and felt much more comfortable. For the rest of the swim I kept swimming in to slower swimmers and could not settle into a swim pace. It felt like stop and go traffic.

I exited the swim and noted that my swim time was the same as last years swim time. I hit my first goal, which was not to be slower than last year. J I made my way out of T1 and was wondering what kind of windy ride what to come. To my surprise the wind had died down and had changed directions. The first half of the 56 mile bike had a bit of a tail cross wind, where last year we faced a head wind on the way out. On the way back there was a bit of a head wind, but it wasn’t as bad as last year’s head wind. I focused on keeping my cadence flowing evenly through the rest of the ride.

This year’s bike ride finish took us through the airport, which I was not fond of. There were areas with uneven concrete and grass. I had seen several flats along the bike course and I did not need one with less than a ½ mile from the transition area. I made my way into T2 and took note that there were several bikes already racked. I’m used to seeing this knowing that my swim usually places me 5 to10 minutes behind the leaders in my age group. Though I was treating this as a hard training session, I find motivation in passing people on the run course.

I started the run leg, and took the first couple of miles to find my pace. I settled into my goal pace, and found it was pretty easy to maintain. It was getting pretty hot, and I could feel the heat from the sun beating down on me. I made it a point to sip on some water and take a cold wet sponge at every aid station on the run. At mile 8, all of a sudden my body temperature jumped up. I felt real hot, and begin to worry. I made it to the next aid station, took some ice, a cold sponge, water, and finished my nutrition. A few minutes went by, and I got my second wind.

My body temperature was back under control, and I was still holding my goal pace. I had planned on running a negative split for the last 3 miles of the race, but a hot spot developed under my right foot. I decided to back off, and just try to hold pace for the remainder of the race. I knew I was on track to hit my run goal, and I did not want to leave with any blisters that would keep me from training for any period of time.

When I crossed the finish line I stopped my Garmin and glanced at the time. I had finished in 4:39:09, and hit a PR by 4 minutes (Swim time: 38:37, Bike time: 2:28:36 and Run time: 1:25:49). I was able to take a minute off my bike, and 3 minutes off my run time from last year. I was please with my race and I’m looking forward to the next four weeks of IM training.

I’d like to congratulate all those who competed this weekend. I’d like to give a special congratulations to all who PR, and were first time finishers. I saw many friends from the DFW area out there, and I’ve seen many Facebook posts of everyone’s accomplishments. It’s good to know that the DFW area has great active lifestyle presents. I’ve seen it grow over the past 4 years, and look forward to seeing it grow over years to come!

Thank you for reading this blog entry. As always feel free to email me any questions or comments you may have.