Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Tri Life: The Travelling Triathlete (Training on the Road)

Here's a post that I wrote for the Rev3 Triathlon Blog a couple months back.  Reposting here for posterity.  Enjoy!!


As endurance athletes, whether we be triathletes, pure runners or pure cyclists there is one common thread: WE ALL HAVE TO TRAIN!  For most of us, to even enjoy doing the things we do "for fun", it requires a certain personality type.  There are the exceptions, but a great deal of us obsess over our training.  We have our plans laid out and we follow those plans religiously to reach our goal.  Seems easy enough, right?  Well, what about when it's not?  Take, for example, this week.  I had to go out of town for work Wednesday through Friday.  Great, but what about my Wednesday swim workout? What about my Thursday bike workout? Travelling can be fun, but the challenge is finding where and how to get my training in while on the road.  No matter if travelling for business or for fun there's a few things I always think about.

What training resources will I have at my disposal when I get to my destination?  Am I staying at a hotel that will have a fitness area?  Most nicer hotels will have at least a treadmill or two.  Some even  have stationary bikes, elliptical trainers and weights. Am I staying with family or friends? If so, do they have fitness equipment or will I have to improvise?  Is there a gym nearby?  A lot of gyms will do a free or inexpensive one-day or two-day pass.  This is a great way to get in a swim workout, spin class or a run on the treadmill if you need one.  Another great resource is local clubs.  Do a quick google search for tri clubs, cycling clubs or running clubs in the area where are you headed.  Make contact with them either through social media or their website.  I like to see if there are any favorite running routes, greenways or the like around where I'm staying.  No need to pound out miles on a treadmill if there is good weather and a safe path nearby!  

After I figure out what training possibilities I have, then next thing to consider is packing.  What do I need to pack in order to get my training in?   I will go ahead and say that for the majority of my travels, I pack running gear and that's it.  A pair of shoes, some socks, a pair of shorts and a shirt.  Done. Easy. With those things, I can go for a run, I can do a strength workout, I can even spend some time on a spin bike if I so desire.  Depending on how long I'm staying wherever I'm staying will dictate the number of clothes required.  If I'm taking a bike or planning to ride, then things become more cumbersome (especially in the cooler weather) but sometimes it's quite worth it.  Before Christmas I made a trip to see my family in Cincinnati.  After a quick search online, I found the Cincinnati Cycling Club was going to be doing a group ride that I could potentially attend.  I decided to take the bike and joined them.  It was a great time, I got to meet new people and see a part of the country in a way that I hadn't seen it before.  Of course, if all else fails and room allows, a bike trainer is quite portable.

The last thing to consider is nutrition.  I'm not just talking about how many bars, gels, drinks etc do I need to take.  That's important but what's more important? How am I going to keep up my nutrition and not sabotage my training with poor dietary decisions.  I try to maintain a relatively clean diet.  Travelling makes that quite a bit more difficult.  Both driving and flying present their own sets of challenges when it comes to food but where there's a will, there's a way.  When driving, keep an eye out for national or regional chain restaurants that you know have healthier options.  The grilled chicken sandwich is my go-to road meal most of the time as it can be had at most fast-food chains.  I stay away from fried things most of the time but ESPECIALLY when travelling. Nothing is worse than the fried food gut bomb when on a road trip.  I also usually eat quite a bit lighter when travelling.  I tend to eat smaller meals and snack (on healthy things) as I go rather than eat a big meal.  This helps to keep me focused and not feel sluggish and sleepy when I'm driving.

In the end, the most well laid plans can always fall through.  No matter how much I  plan, how much I pace, how good my intentions are, I may not get to strictly adhere to my training plan.  The trick, for me, is: think on the fly, improvise where I can and don't sweat the missed workouts.  At the end of the day, a missed swim workout is not going to derail and entire seasons worth of work.  Any training is better than no training!

Race Report: Rev3 Knoxville 70.3 (or IMLP 140.6 Midterm Exam) - May 22, 2016

This race was one that I've been looking forward to for quite some time.  Really, since AtomicMan 70.3 at the end of last season.  I was excited to see how far my fitness had come and how much I had improved upon my experiences from my two half distance races last year.  In December, I found out that I made the Rev3 Ambassador Team.  This gave me even more reasons to look forward to Rev3 Knoxville.  I would get to show off my "home" race to lots of new people and I would get to see and hangout with my new team mates again!

Leading up to Rev3 Knoxville, I have been in full on 140.6 training mode.  I've been putting in a lot of miles on the bike and doing some serious work in the water.  I felt like my run was a bit behind due to a minor foot injury I had been dealing with over the winter.  Over the last 4-6 weeks, however, my run form has been coming back and I've been able to log some good miles and get some speed work in.  This race was going to be really a three fold test for me.  1.) Nutrition for the full distance 2.) Pacing for the full distance and 3.) Can my run hold together.   

Got my race plan early in the week from my coach.  It contained my pacing plan as per usual but this time, there was also a rather large section detailing my nutrition leading up to the race and then the race itself.  I race with caffeine.  His suggestion was to eliminate caffeine for the days leading up to the race so as to maximize its effect on race day.  That meant.... no coffee.  That alone made me skeptical.  I kept reading.  Everything made sense to me as to the taper nutrition. Getting the body used to fueling with simple carbs by tapering the complexity of foods leading up to the race.  Then... race day.  Here's where I started to doubt.  My breakfast was to be applesauce.  Lot's of applesauce.  I would pair this with a scoop of protein powder in water.  Right.  I would then consume 5 bottles of fluids on the bike (2 more than either of my 70.3's last year.  I normally plan for 1 bottle per hour).  Run would be on course sports drink and water with gels as needed.  

Race plan was pretty straightforward.  Push the swim.  Relax on the bike and keep the power around 200 watts on the flats and 250 on the climbs.  Once on the run, keep the pace slow and HR in upper Z2 until mile 10, then push.

So how did everything go?!  Well, I survived the nutrition taper including cutting out coffee (yikes!) and the applesauce breakfast.  I will say, sitting on the couch at 4am "drinking" and entire jar of unsweetened applesauce was a little bizarre. BUT, it seemed to work.  I got to the race site feeling good and wasn't hungry at all leading up to the swim start.  Everything went smoothly in the swim.  After the gun, the first stretch to the buoy was directly into the sun so couldn't see anything.  Just kept following the mass of people.  I really couldn't find any clean water.  I tried to weave my way around and through the mass but just couldn't seem to get any clear space.  I decided at that point to just settle in as best as I could and conserve.  No point in getting frustrated.   There was a point at which I ended up next to this guy that couldn't seem to stay out of my way.  He kept weaving in front of me and cutting me off.  It seemed no matter what I did he was there. I finally got annoyed with that and kicked on the jets at the buoy turn and tried to put some space between us.  I felt like I got a pretty good gap but I think he just held onto my heels and I drug him along.   Oh well.  By now the exit was in sight so head down and point myself at the exit.  Made it to the dock and hauled myself out of the water.  Got the wetsuit half stripped with no issue and trotted into T1.

Swim: 36:46 1:37/100yd

T1 was smooth.  Strip the wetsuit.  Helmet on, shoes on, glasses and away we go.  The bike went as planned for the 20-30 miles.  I was getting my nutrition in as planned and my pace was on point.  I passed the first aid station at mile 9 as planned without taking on additional supplies.  After finishing the serving of custom sports drink in the aero bottle, I refilled out of my rear bottle cage with more of my custom sports drink. I tossed the empty bottle and took on some clean water at the next aid station around mile 27.  By this point I was almost through that second bottle.  This time around I refilled the aero bottle with water.  It was soon after this I realized the front of my bike felt a little funny.  I looked down and realized the front tire was low.  It wasn't totally flat so I figured it was leaking slowly.  I stopped and refilled the tire with CO2.  I figured with a little less than half of the bike course left I could limp it back without changing (even if I had to stop another time or two to fill it.)  Well, that didn't last.  I glanced down at my Garmin, then back up just in time to see a small rock.  I hit it.  Dead centered it.  I heard the soul crushing hiss of not only one but BOTH of my tires going flat.  Yep.  Double flat.  I wobbled to a stop, cussed a few times, then set about changing my tubes.  I always carry two tubes with me.  With luck, the support car passed and stopped to help me out.  I used his floor pump so I didn't have to use what was left of my 1 and a half CO2's.  10 minutes later, I was back on the road again.  Nothing I could do now but keep on going and enjoy what was left of the day.  Heck, I wasn't winning nor was I trying to win so no biggie.  Just stuck to the plan and kept going.  I finished the water refill and then hit my last bottle of sports drink.  Passing the last aid I tossed the empty water bottle and got another water to finish the day.  Before getting back to T2 I got all 5 planned bottles in.  Coming back into town I saw several riders coming in from a side road.  I was confused but just kept riding.  Turns out, another event came out to mark their course early that morning (using the same colors as the Rev3 course markings) and some riders had gotten lost due to them.  Very sad but goes to show the importance of knowing the course.  I kept on and made it back into town.  Cruised into T2 and got ready for the run.

Bike: 3:10:33 17.6 mph (factoring out the roughly 10 minutes for the flats was right at 3 hours and around 19 mph)

Run felt very good.  I was making a conscious effort to enjoy the day.  Especially after the flat tires on the bike, I really just wanted to enjoy the run.  I headed out of T2 with my pacing firmly implanted in my mind.  No matter how good I felt, I was going to hold to a Z2 HR and just let the pace fall where it may.  I switched the display on Garmin to show only HR Zone and Current HR.  First miles flew by and I was holding steady in the mid 9's.  I said hi to all my friends and high-fived my club mates and team mates as I passed them.  I joked with volunteers and spectators and smiled.  I smiled a lot.  I don't remember having that much fun on a run in a long time.  Sure it was hot and I was tired but I was having a blast.  I alternated Gatorade and Water at the aid stations and splashed water on my head to keep me cool.  Mile 6 I hit a Double Latte Powerbar Power Gel.  Talk about a wake up!  The next four miles went by the same as the first 6.  More smiles and high fives and encouraging others that were having a rough go.  Fatigue started to set in a bit around mile 10 so I hit another gel.  This time was a Pomegranate Blueberry Acai Power Gel.  No caffeine in this one.  Wish there was.  Still, the calories did the trick and I picked up the pace heading into the last 3 miles.  Best part of the day, however, was when I rounded the corner of the finish chute and see my wife waiting for me.  She was volunteering and had been posted there.  She threw her hands into the air, I did the same and ran simultaneously into her arms and across the finish line.  

Run: 2:03:50 - 9:27/mi

Rev3 Knoxville 70.3 Final Time 5:55:37.

Looking back, I had a really great day.  I got out of the race what I needed to.  I got a good, solid test of my 140.6 pacing and nutrition. I had a great time, racing a great course and hanging out with my Rocky Top Multisport Club and Rev3 Team and I came across the line upright and unhurt into the arms of my wife.  Really, what more could I ask for?!