10 August 2016


Perceptions, the kind we have of ourselves, of the people around us, and about what we think we can and cannot do, are part of our daily lives. We go through our days and hours with certain beliefs of what we're capable of. These perceptions shape us. They guide our decision making. They affect what we do. They inform our personal choices about what we try to do and what we believe is now and forever beyond us.

Where do these perceptions come from? How did we accumulate them and accept them as "the truth"? Are they real? Are they currentAre they accurate? How did they come about? Many of us are burdened with labels, expectations, and so-called truths that we learned when we were younger - they were repeatedly told to us as we were growing up or they were things we "learned" about ourselves as we went through life. Sometimes those perceptions and beliefs about ourselves came from our parents, teachers, or peers; sometimes they arose through self-awareness.

It is very possible that we hold onto these perceptions (whether they were ever actually true or not) for far too long. They are there in the back of our minds when we decide our course of action or inaction. They keep us from trying something new or challenging. They keep us from achieving things we are actually capable of. They scare us into holding back and not gaining new experiences and not uncovering strengths we didn't know we had.

Of course I have to share my own example to illustrate this and of course it has to be triathlon related:
Before my 1st marathon - click pic to see shirt
As a teenager I was a competitive swimmer in San Diego. My best event was the 100 Freestyle, an event that takes less than 1 minute to race. It is a sprint race (the only event shorter is the 50 Free). As a competitive swimmer you tend to swim a large variety of events of different distances and strokes at swim meets. It might even include the "mile". This is the "endurance" event in swimming. Compared to my peers I was pretty far back in the pack in this event but was usually at or near the top in the sprint 100. So of course I considered myself a sprint athlete, not an endurance athlete. I carried this belief with me for decades.

This belief, this perception, this label was a big reason I never thought I could run a 10K, let alone a marathon. It was a big reason I never thought doing an Ironman (140.6 mile) triathlon was possible. I was a "sprinter", not an endurance athlete.  It never occurred to me that I could be both a sprinter and an endureance athlete. Never mind that as a teenage there were summer days where I trained over 4 1/2 hours in the pool. I was a "sprinter" damn it! 
Finishing my 1st marathon
Another 'limiter' I had in my head was, "How can I do an endurance race? I don't have a large intestine so of course I can't stay hydrated. Of course I can't be on the course that long without having to go to the bathroom. An Ironman? I'd probably die trying to do that!" 
Well it turns out I COULD do long distance triathlon. I COULD do an 11 or 12 hour race. I just had to learn how to do it, how to train myself properly,  how to hydrate properly, make sure there was a portapotty somewhere, and believe in my own abilities. 
Did a switch suddenly get flipped so that I knew I could do it? No. For me it was more a step-by-step process with small successes that built upon each other. There were setbacks along the way but each challenge that I met contributed to my belief that my assumptions and beliefs were absolutely WRONG! What was going on in my head -  not only was it not real, it was inaccurate and/or outdated. If I hadn't challenged those beliefs, sometimes purposely and sometimes by accident, I would never have known how wrong I was. I would not now be training for my 9th Ironman race in Arizona this November 2016.

I've had this quote near the top of this blog for a few years now...
"We limit what we can do by believing our limits are real and unmoving. These limits are self-imposed and simply need to be challenged. What if you are far greater than you think?" ~~Coach Skip Slade
What are you telling yourself that might not actually be true? What supposed truth is guiding you that is outdated and/or wrong? What limits have you imposed on yourself that merely need to be challenged? What are you afraid of that, with the right support, you could vanquish?
  • I can't swim - I'm afraid of the water!
  • I can't put my face in the water without panicking!
  • I'm not a runner - I could never run a mile/a 5K/a half marathon! 
  • I haven't ridden a bike since I was a kid. No way I could ride 12 miles!
  • I could probably swim and ride a bike but I could never run!
  • I'm not an 'athlete'. Triathlon is for someone else!
You are more powerful, more talented, more able, more capable than you believe. Change can push you into an uncomfortable or scary position but tolerating that, especially when you have role models and teammates around you supporting you, will lead to successes. Patience is required as it usually doesn't come overnight. Persistence is very helpful. Laughing at yourself and having fun can keep you going. Letting go of the self-imposed requirement of perfection will free you to improve.

What are you waiting for? Perceptions - Change Them!

20 June 2016

Thirty Years

During the past week and a half I've dealt with a case of pouchitis, which is what us folks who don't have a colon sometimes face instead of ulcerative colitis. Those 2 illnesses, colitis and pouchitis, tend to be very similar to each other. I admit that I've had a few flashbacks to some darker periods in my life. This recent bout with IBD didn't lead to this post but it has made it seem more emotional and important, at least in my own mind....

I didn't used to be super public about the fact that I had ulcerative colitis or that I subsequently had surgery that removed my large intestine. Sure I've shared my story many times but usually I've felt a little embarrassed because, while there have been some very hard times related to the disease, the surgery, and the recovery, that also did not mean to me that I was somehow 'special'. And to be truthful, it also didn't help that I felt uncomfortable talking about poop, and colons, and blood, and diarrhea (farts were a different story). I don't view myself as anywhere close to being on the level of say a challenge athlete with an amputated limb or a cancer survivor in what I've supposedly overcome.

As a triathlete and most especially as a Team Challenge triathlon coach for the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA) I've learned over time that sharing the fact that I've had UC, that I have no colon, and that I still have intestinal bowel disease (IBD) is worthwhile for others to hear. I don't share my story or history for sympathy, or to impress people, or to "brag" - Look at ME! I've done 8 Ironmans without a colon. The reason I share is to help those who have Crohn's or colitis, or those who have a child (or even a friend) with one of those diseases, to be inspired, to have hope, and to believe that IBD, while often pretty horrible, is also sometimes pretty manageable; to understand that some semblance of a "normal" life is possible for many and to not give up hope.

Why am I writing this today? THIRTY years ago, on June 20, 1986, I had the first of a two-step surgery to remove my large intestine and construct a reservoir out of the end of my small intestine - an illeoanal proctocolectomy. 30 years ago the treatment options were far more limited - flagyl, sulfasalazine, prednisone, one somewhat useful antibiotic, "bowel rest", and surgery. That was pretty much it for ulcerative colitis. (The options for Crohn's were even fewer!) 30 years ago, two weeks after the birth of my first child, I went under the knife of a young, excellent surgeon, Dr Dana Launer, who would do the first J-pouch surgery in San Diego after he had traveled to Sweden to learn the new procedure. 30 years ago? That means I've lived longer WITHOUT my colon than with it. I was 29 years old at the time of that first surgery. It was devastating for my family and for me. But it was the best option available at the time.

Baby Marc visiting me in the hospital
A few days after Marc was born I had a colonoscopy scheduled as an out patient and the doctor was going to use a teaching scope so that I could also see what things looked like in there (general anesthesia wasn't used then I guess). My health had rallied for the days around Linda giving birth but now I was so bad off that I didn't have the energy to even look at or care what the doctor was doing or seeing. The bowel prep itself practically wiped me out. The result of the colonoscopy was the doc wanting to admit me to the hospital right then and there. Because I felt so bad I did not argue or put up a fight, even though this left my wife to now, somehow, hold our lives together. At first they put me on the oncology floor of the hospital because that was the bed that was available. They immediately started giving me a blood transfusion (I was 3 pints low), lipids, and glucose or whatever through an IV. Unfortunately, putting me in the oncology unit freaked Linda out even more because she thought there must be something they weren't telling her. My parents, Jayne and Hank, were also devastated but were there to support both Linda and Marc, and me. The other family members and the friends that were able to visit me were supportive but very concerned.
Linda, Marc, and me at Scripps Memorial (La Jolla)

During the next few days Linda put our baby into a 'snuggly', went to the UCSD medical library, got unhappy looks from med students studying for exams, and poured nickels into the photocopy machine to copy the research on surgical options (remember, no internet or pubmed websites back then!) so that we could make an informed decision. It took the rest of the week to make the decision to have surgery. Finally I decided to have the surgery, at least in part because of the
Images via John Hopkins Colon Cancer Center
concern/risk of colon cancer. The 1st surgery took 6 1/2 hours and included a 10" long incision through my abdominal muscles and a stoma hole for me to be able to poop into an illeostomy bag. I was in the hospital for 21 days altogether. And this didn't including the 6 weeks I spent on bowel rest earlier that year or the 10 days required 3+ months later for the 2nd part of the surgery. In between the first and 2nd surgery I returned to work as best I could. I also did my best to reclaim some part of my old self by training for and swimming the 1 mile La Jolla Rough Water Swim. It turned out to be the slowest, hardest, and best, open water swim of my life. That year, 1986, the little "survivor medal" they gave out to finishers was far more meaningful and prized by me than it had ever been.

Depression, ongoing bowel issues, and adjustments to life followed for many years. I did not adapt well. I'm sure that being pretty inflexible and being slow to letting things go, adapt, and move forward didn't help! The depression eventually even included suicidal thoughts but with a lot of help, psychotherapy, and the unfathomable patience of Linda, I have gotten to where I am now, 30 years on. It was a hard road for a very long time but things gradually got better. Don't be fooled by how I am today: it wasn't easy - it was very hard work. All of this is sometimes hard for us to believe. We wonder how we survived it all, stayed together, continue to love each other, and how we now can't imagine being without each other.

That's the story of my ulcerative colitis and surgery. Even though what's written here is long, trust me when I say you got the abbreviated version!

Let me end by saying that, no, not everyone can be as fortunate as I am in being able to manage IBD and get through the treatment and all that's involved. But if I can show someone who is feeling depressed, or lost, or hopeless, that there are possibilities for a better future, to be inspired about possibilities, then that is a so very small price to pay for being a little less private about myself and sometimes a little uncomfortable about sharing my own IBD story or issues.

Thirty years... imagine that!

22 May 2016

Indoor Cycling/Spin Class?

I was recently asked what I thought about indoor cycling/spin/studio cycling classes. Is is okay to
Older Photo from Encinitas/Ecke YMCA
substitute a class for a bike workout?

In general I like them very much, especially as a week day substitute. They are a good way to get in a workout on a bike when you can't safely or logistically get outside and ride on the road. Of course an indoor cycling class isn't a perfect substitute. Doing a trainer ride is another great alternative. Both of these options have different advantages to go along with some shortcomings.

Indoor cycling is a good option for many reasons. Depending on the equipment, it can be a reasonably good simulation of a road ride. It can allow you to work harder and do more things that you wouldn't do on the road due to safety concerns. And it can also challenge you to work harder and longer because you have someone telling you what to do over the beat of music. Having that along with a group doing the same thing can be very motivating.

Indoor cycling classes don't take place on your own bike (well... yes, there are group classes that take place on trainers that you mount your own bike on) which is a negative. You also don't get to do you own workout (though you can fake it if the class is too intense and you want or need to go moderately.) All instructors are not the same but I suspect most are pretty decent or they won't stay employed very long. A good instructor will direct you with a warm up, cool down, effort level, cadence, technique reminders, encouragement, good music (usually) and a well-structured session.

  • A "spin bike" is not your road or triathlon bike. It's unlikely to ever match you the same way your professionally "fitted" bike will. This means it is not a perfect simulation of a road ride... but it IS similar.
  • The clip-in pedals on "spin bikes" tend to be mountain bike-type clips so most people's road bike shoes don't work. If you don't have that type of clip on your shoes, most indoor spin bikes have straps/cages (I think) that you can use. You can also buy bike shoes appropriate for the class (make sure they are comfortable and fit properly!) or get adapters that allow you to attach the correct clips to your old road/tri shoes. Don't do this to the shoes you currently use to ride on the road. 
  • Make sure you get the seat and handle bar settings in a good position for you. Try to simulate how your own bike feels. Ask for help from the instructor if you need to. 
  • All bikes are calibrated slightly differently. The numbers help you gauge differences during a workout but aren't always transferable to the next workout because all bikes are calibrated differently. Instead...
  • Base your workout primarily on perceived effort and HR if you can. You can at least get a sense of what the bike calibration #s mean as you get into your workout. See what your HR is at a certain resistance/gear/power and work from there.
  • 1st big caution: Filter what the instructor says and consider your current abilities, needs, and experience. It's YOUR workout so use your judgement when it comes to how hard you should go, how much resistance to put on, etc. Everyone is different. An instructor can give you a sort of range to work in or tell you how hard to go, can recommend pedal cadence, and can suggest when to stand up or sit down, but ultimately it's up to you. Someone who is used to doing "sprints" can do more speed work than someone who has not done speed work in a long time (or ever). 
  • 2nd big caution: Do not do a bunch of non-cycling type moves on the bike. If an instructor starts having you do things with weights, taking weird riding positions, doing dancing-style movements, or doing super-fast pedal spins (over 120rpm), these are not going to help you and have the risk of causing injury. It's rare (I hope) but stay away from that kind of gimmicky riding.

Taking an indoor cycling class is a great substitute for a road ride as part of an overall smart, well-planned training week.

16 May 2016

Clif and Chips Problem - Two Weeks Later

2 weeks ago I started to purge things from my diet and temporarily remove some things that seemed to be problematic. While I have a particularly bad habit with Clif bars and chips (tortilla and potato), I wanted to experiment with eliminating ALL grains, legumes, sugars, sweeteners, breads, fruit, fruit juices, and any processed carbohydrate-type "foods". I wrote up some details on what I was doing, here. My goals were three: 

1.     Determine if or how sensitive I was to carbohydrates, identify ones might cause problems, and ID ones I tolerate well. 
2.     Get off of Clif bars and the the chip-eating habit. 
3.     Regain control of my food choices and learn ways to successfully and safely maintain 'race weight'. 
This was not intended to be a "weight loss diet" or long term eating strategy. It was intended more as a learning experiment and as a chance to reprogram my thinking and habits.

Results so far:

While the plan and experiment continue, I've had mixed results so far. I'm usually good about reading labels but fell WAY short on two items. Last week I discovered that my vegan protein powder also contains powders derived from fruits and fruit was off my list of food items. There is also a little stevia in my greens powder. Other than that I stayed away from all grains, legumes, potatoes and sweet potatoes, sugars, breads, fruit, fruit juices, Clif bars, Chips, and other processed carb-type food. I ate when I wanted to and didn't count calories or restrict my diet in other ways. (Well, let me take that back. I've written about my diet, especially as it relates to ulcerative colitis/pouchitis and being an endurance athlete. I don't do dairy - milk, cheese, ice cream or yogurt, drink alcohol, eat sweets - cake, cookies, candy, etc., or eat animal proteins except fish and eggs.Yes, Clif bars, sports gels, etc. are pretty much just candy.)

My desire for Clif bars and tortilla or potato chips has lessened slightly but is still a driving force. In past situations where I've had those items the desire is still triggered and the desire is strong. Rewiring has not taken place yet. However, having an absolute, black and white RULE has kept me from backsliding. I have found this works even better for me than having a rule that includes a "cheat day" or something similar. While making exceptions be hard to control and can lead me down a slippery slope (which is how I got here in the first place), I will still make certain very limited exceptions where necessary. There better be good reasoning and a conscious decision each time or I'll be right back where I started. I'll need to sort those things out BEFORE the situations arise.

I have not noticed any changes in how I feel, how much energy I have, or how I sleep, etc.

I weighed in at 162.5 lb. when I started. After 1 week, in spite of staying hydrated and not restricting calories, I weighed 154.0 lb. Today I was 153.0 lb. As stated, weight loss wasn't the goal but it is a happy byproduct. This weight, I believe, is a good one for me. Whether it stays here as I slowly add back foods is yet to be seen.

What's next

Starting tomorrow, Tuesday, I will slowly add back some but not all of the food items I removed from my diet. I will not add back Clif bars or chips, sugars, and fruit juices. Limited grain will come back in. Bread and/or pasta items will be limited to social situations where it's much more difficult to avoid. Legumes, potatoes, and fruit will be added selectively. I can see times where I will be "at risk" for backsliding. Anticipating those and planning ahead to have other options will be the key to success.

With all that said, I will be adding one thing back at a time. If I notice something not being quite right then they may become things I avoid completely in the future.

The first thing back will likely be black beans. Other legumes, quinoa, brown rice, and blueberries will likely follow. This little experiment will be interesting to me. I know it may not be for everyone but my quest is to be healthy and to make fueling during training and racing easier.

Disclaimer: I ain't no registered dietitian, nutritionist, doctor, or scientist. The information in this post is my own personal opinion based on what I'VE come to understand as true and accurate. Of course I could be TOTALLY WRONG. Just sayin'...

09 May 2016

Clif and Chips

"Hi, my name is Skip and I have a Clif and Chips problem." -with apologies to AA and NA

I've decided to purge things from my diet and am temporarily removing more than just Clif bars and chips as part of an experiment. I believe that I'm a fairly efficient "fat-adapted" athlete if my low calorie intake during my recent marathon is any indication. TEMPORARILY I'm off of all grains, legumes, sugars, sweeteners, breads, fruit, fruit juices, and any processed carbohydrate-type "foods". I'm doing this for 2 weeks.

My goals are:

  1. Determine if or how much I'm sensitive to carbohydrates, and which ones I tolerate well and which ones might cause me problems. This will not be my permanent "diet". I will be adding things back gradually, one at a time, to see how my body responds. Quinoa, brown rice, black beans, chickpeas, blueberries, etc. will be added over time.
  2. Get me OFF of the Clif bar and chips habits (see below). I do not intend to add those back but my intension is to have a solid plan in place on how I consume or don't consume them.
  3. Regain control of my food choices which in turn will help me with my weight. I've been finding it difficult to get back to my race weight, though I haven't been obsessed with it. The marathon a week ago was done at 5-10 lbs over my ideal weight. The idea with this 2 weeks is NOT to use it as a weight loss plan but to help understand how different carbohydrates affect me as I add them back.

Clif bars, tortilla chips, and potato chips
I have to admit that things have gotten out of hand. Chips, tortilla or potato, have always been a big
problem for me. I love the taste, I love the crunch, and I love the salt. I especially love them in combination with guacamole or hummus. Tortilla chips are generally made from corn flour, oil/fat, salt, and water. Potato chips are similar to tortilla chips except that they're made out of either potato flour or actual sliced potatoes. In my view there are two main problems with chips. 1st, the chips are generally cooked in a low quality vegetable oil that is likely very high in Omega 6 fatty acids. We get PLENTY Omega 6's elsewhere in our diet (especially if you eat nuts) and this vegetable oil fat is generally not considered a "healthy fat". 2nd, corn and wheat flour are both grains (corn is not a vegetable). They are usually highly refined and are always high in carbohydrates. They are definitely not necessary and are certainly not part of a healthy diet. (Salt, the other potential concern, is not something I personally worry about. I do not have hypertension and believe sodium is a non-issue for me, with the exception that it entices me to eat more of something the same way that sugar does.)

Clif bars are a more recent problem for me. Before 2014 I mostly ate Clif bars at race expos and after an Ironman or 70.3 event. That turned out to be a slow but slippery slope. 2014 was a very stressful and over-committed year. Sometimes eating a "healthy" Clif bar was a matter of convenience. Other times it was a reward for surviving a very long, stressful day. Clif bars made be promoted as "healthy" snacks or quick energy boosts or even a meal substitute. I suppose they are but really they are candy bars, bottom line.

Here's the list of ingredients for Coconut Chocolate Chip (my favorite) Clif bar: Organic Brown Rice Syrup, Organic Rolled Oats, Soy Protein Isolate, Rice Flour, Organic Cane Syrup, Organic Roasted Soybeans, Organic Oat Fiber, Organic Coconut, Organic Soy Flour, Dried Cane Syrup, Unsweetened Chocolate‡, Organic Sunflower Oil, Organic Date Paste, Natural Flavors, Cocoa Butter‡, Barley Malt Extract, Sea Salt, Vanilla Extract, Soy Lecithin, Mixed Tocopherols (Antioxidant).

It doesn't list sugar but that's essentially what brown rice syrup, cane syrup, and dried cane syrup are. Date paste also adds sweetness. There is also a number of soy ingredients, probably for the protein component. Much of the rest of the ingredients are processed grains. Sunflower oil, although organic and possibly well-sourced, is another not-so-great vegetable oil.

Like chips, for me, eating Clif bars has become a relatively out of control habit that interferes with healthy eating. Either Clif and chips replace healthier food choices and calories or more likely add to my overall calorie intake. I knew this was something I had to deal with to be the best I could be.

So Far
I decided to start this last Tuesday, 3 May 2016. It seemed to be good timing: I just finished my goal race, a marathon, I would need time to recover before getting back to full-on training for Ironman Arizona, and no major food-centric holidays during the 2 weeks. I weighed in on Tuesday morning at 162.5. I've done well with stubbornly sticking to my plan. I have not counted calories, have eaten whenever I've wanted to or anytime I've felt hungry, and I've drunk plenty of water.

Disclaimer: I am not a registered dietitian, nutritionist, doctor, or scientist. The information in this post is my own personal opinion based on what I'VE come to understand as true and accurate. Of course I could be TOTALLY WRONG. Just sayin'...

02 May 2016

Secret Sacrifice

It's been one day since the OC Marathon on Sunday where I squeaked in under the 4 hour mark (by 3 seconds) but missed my goal of getting a Boston Marathon Qualifying time. I'm now in that emotionally elevated post-race state of mind. A a good friend asked me if they could get me into the Mountains2Beach Marathon in 4 weeks, the one I originally intended to do, would I do it? I told him/her that my heart said yes but my rational self knows better.

I knew that taking on this BQ goal was going to be challenging and difficult. I also started to see about 2 months ago that it was likely going to be a one shot attempt. And that was IF I could make it to the start line in the first place. I've had plantar fasciitis (f-ing-itis!) in my right foot for 5 years. In that time I've managed to do at least 1 Ironman ever year but I've had to make choices in order to do that. I've avoid many shorter triathlons and running races in order to show up healthy at an Ironman starting line. Until I found Hoka One One running shoes I did most of my run training on the elliptical machine, and when it was really bad, running in deep water. I've managed to be able to train normally for at least a couple of years, holding the plantar f. issue in check.

Training for this marathon after doing 6 half marathons during the previous year and a half started sending me back into the "uh-oh, this is an injury again" category. Even a month ago I was having an internal debate about pulling the plug before it got worse. Obviously I decided to go through to the end, focused on the goal.

Everybody who trains for these endurance events makes sacrifices of one sort or another in order to get the training done. For me, for this race, there were also some secret sacrifices. I knew I was taking a calculated risk - my health vs. my desire to achieve a goal. In choosing the goal I knew that I was going to be in for some seriously painful rehab work. Whether I got Graston technique therapy or (and) something else, it will not be pleasant. I also knew that regular running (on land) would have to be put on hold for a while until the pain subsides and the treatment can be effective. That means elliptical (if I'm lucky) and water running for a good long while.

Since I can't walk normally today because of plantar f. pain, there's no way I could run 26 miles four weeks from now, no matter how much I want another opportunity! I believe at this point that I made the right choice but you never know. Hopefully it wasn't a miscalculation. Only time will tell.

01 May 2016

OC (Orange County) Marathon Race Report

If a headline was written for my race it might read something like… Slade Sets Marathon PR by 30 Minutes; Still Misses BQ.

Let me start with the obvious: racing a marathon is kind of hard… and painful!  I found it different hard than a marathon at the end of an Ironman. Maybe that should be my biggest takeaway from this: a marathon as part of an IM shouldn’t be different. But of course it's not that simple and clear cut. The mental component is a pretty big deal.

My performance goal was to qualify for the Boston Marathon. I was inspired by Caitlyn and her Boston Qualifier last year, along with my much-improved ½ marathon time this year.  3:55 is the qualifying time, though it took somewhere around 3:52:30 this year to get in. My aim was to get under one or both of those times. I fell short with a 3:59:57. It was a PR by 30 minutes so that’s consolation and makes falling short more palatable. If I'd gone 3 seconds slower (4 hours) I'd have viewed my time as a LOT slower!

My other two types of goals, the process goal and experiential goal, had mixed results but were mostly met. 

  • Experiential: absorb and enjoy the excitement, enthusiasm, and support. Be grateful for being able to race and for the love and support of family, friends, and volunteers. Thank people, Smile, Race joyful. Embrace the pain and push to my limits. 
  • Process: monitor HR and mile pace. Control pace at the beginning to finish strong. Take in calories and water on the course at planned intervals. Run the shortest route. 
As brief as I can be, here is the race report. I got up at 3:30am for the 5:30 start time, getting a good 6 hours sleep. Thought about getting up at 3:45 but felt I needed to eat as close to 3:30 as I could. Took a fancy Mercedes Van shuttle from the hotel to the start line and used one of the many portapotties at about 5:00 – perfect timing as I had no GI issues on the run. I lined up with a race pacer – 3:50 finish time (too optimistic?!) – but that pacer didn’t instill any confidence. He forgot his sign so he’d be hard to spot and he said his watch wasn’t working so needed someone to report the mile pace to him. He also said he’d have trouble doing a 3:50 as he had PRed 2 weeks before in a 3:20. I went my own way.
I started out a little too fast. My plan had been to keep my heart rate under 130. It kept creeping up into the low 130s so I kept reining it back in. By memory I thought I’d blown this but looking at my splits (see below) I was pleasantly surprised at how true to plan I was, at least based on average heart rate. However, I DID pick up the pace too early, at 6 miles instead of 9. I kept to the 130s a little longer than planned but it was slowly moving up towards 140s. From mile 20 to the end, though I struggled based on my mile pace, I was putting out the higher effort. 

My plantar f-ing-itis was a 1 out of 10 on the pain scale at mile 1, 2 at the end of the second mile, and then it varied between 1 and a low 4 for the rest of the run. My legs never felt fresh for the whole 26+ miles and the quads gradually protested more and more starting with mile 10 or so, escalating to the point where they were cursing at me during the final 4+ miles. At that point I was sometimes getting tunnel vision and sometimes feeling like I was unbalanced and could tip over accidentally with any slight misstep. I didn’t want to quit but I sure wanted that damn finish line to appear. With about 2 miles to go the 4:00 pacers went past me. With less than a mile left I passed them back, determined to finish ahead of them and hopefully be under 4 hours. As it turned out they were dead on their pace which helped force me across the line with 3 seconds to spare.

Nutrition went fine. My pre-race breakfast smoothie (coconut milk, protein, super greens, beet powder, and Generation UCAN carbs went down fine.  So did the stuff I took at the starting line. I took a little water during the first 10 miles as well as a little salt/electrolytes. I didn't take in Gatorade or any other calories until around mile 14 (or was it 16?). I felt slightly hungry at that point. Overall I probably took in 16 oz. of Gatorade altogether - probably about 120 calories. I didn't take in any gels though I carried 2 as back up. I'm not sure if this lack of calorie intake was a detriment to my performance or if it was to my benefit as perhaps I'm a good fat burner and therefore avoided GI issues as a consequence. I certainly didn't 'bonk' so the question really is simply if I'd have done better on more calories.

As usual, I cannot believe how many people just run the road as it’s laid out instead of taking the shortest route on the curves. In spite of my taking what I thought was the shortest line on the road my Garmin still read 26.57 miles from start to finish. This is what often happens as they measure a course by it’s shortest line. Still, I can’t help wondering how I went a whole 1/3 of a mile more. So it goes. I wonder how far those people who didn’t pick the best line went.

Overall, after having looked at my splits and knowing how I finished the final 10K, I’m happy with my performance today. I fell short but maybe that’s for the best. I thought I knew how to run a marathon but knowing and executing are 2 different things. I also know that I cut one month of preparation for this race because I didn’t sign up for my target race 4 weeks later before it filled up. I also trained for Ironman 70.3 California during this time so I’m not complaining!
I cannot begin to express my gratitude for the love and support of so many. Mom and many others were “watching” from afar. I got many messages of support. I received many kind words from friends and Team Challenge Tri members. Caitlyn came out and magically appeared on the course 3 different times. The 1st time was a surprise, as I knew she’d said she was coming but never expected her to be there. She wore her garb fresh from Boston, including her marathon jacket, and she encouraged me every time she found me. She wouldn’t allow me to slow down to hug her, which I now ‘blame’ for not achieving my BQ! (Just kidding of course.) The 2nd time she appeared with an awesome signage from my TC Tri tribe - “Your TC Tribe Loves You” and “Find It!”. It was awesome. And finally I saw her again with about 6 or 7 miles to go. I was struggling at that point and she ran a good mile with me. Not long after that my legs started to refuse to respond to my desire to pick up the pace for a strong finish.
Linda, once again, was amazing and I couldn’t have done this without her. She did all the planning and logistics. She made sure I stayed focused on what needed to be my priority. She was anxious for me to finish and make my goal. She did her own 5K while I was racing. And she was an integral part of my final 3 miles as I focused as much as I could on her, trying to override my discomfort and rebellious legs. Let me just say, “I love Linda”.

The Numbers:
Official Race Results – 3:59:57, 16th of 81 men in 55-59 age group, 312 of 1,169 men overall, 408 of 1937 overall. “Age Grade” 62.03% = 175th place
5K – 27:14 @8:46/mi
10K – 56:33 @9:07
10 mi – 1:30:53 @9:06
13.1 mi – 1:59:20 @9:07
15.3 mi – no split
20 mi – 3:01:29 @9:05
24 mi – no split
Chip Time 3:59:57, Gun Time 4:01:01

GPS data – 9:02/mile ave. pace, 136 HR ave., 151 HR max.
1 mile – 9:06, 120 HR ave
2 mi – 8:18, 128HR (contained longest, most significant downhill on course)
3 mi – 8:49, 130HR
4 mi – 9:01, 129HR
5 mi – 9:10, 127HR
6 mi – 9:07, 131HR
7 mi – 8:45, 132HR
8 mi – 8:58, 135HR
9 mi – 8:51, 132HR
10 mi – 8:54, 133HR
11 mi – 8:41, 133HR
12 mi – 8:52, 135HR
13 mi – 8:44, 135HR
14 mi – 8:50, 135HR
15 mi – 9:09, 135HR
16 mi – 9:03, 136HR
17 mi – 9:09, 136HR
18 mi – 9:16, 137HR
19 mi – 9:05, 139HR
20 mi – 9:05, 140HR
21 mi – 8:56, 143HR
22 mi – 8:56, 143HR
23 mi – 9:29, 141HR
24 mi – 9:17, 143HR
25 mi – 9:30, 144HR
26 mi – 9:50, 142HR
26.2 mi – 3:56:35 (estimated)
26.57 mi – 9:06, 148HR (finish line) – 3:59:57

25 April 2016

What If You Are a Better Runner Than You Think? - OC Marathon Race Plan

I've put it out there recently that I've been training for a "stand alone" marathon - the OC (Orange County) Marathon - on May 1. It will be my 2nd one ever. The first was the 2008 San Diego Rock'n'Roll where I went 4:29. The other 8 marathons I've done have been as part of an Ironman. Over the past year and a half I've run 5 half marathons, trying to improve my run, which is the weakest part of my triathlon.

A few things came together to make me want to try this. 1st, my best 1/2 marathon time came down a decent amount. 2nd, Caitlyn Pilkington ran her first marathon at Carlsbad in 2015 and qualified for Boston. 3rd, I used a couple of different "time predictors" that extrapolated what I could do for a marathon based on my 1/2 marathon time. And finally, I turn 60 this year so I decided to look up what the BQ time was for my geezerly age group.

With a history of plantar f-ing-itis this might not have been a brilliant plan but I decided to train for a marathon and try to achieve a Boston Qualifying time. In less than a week comes the test. Some readers like to know what my race plan and intentions are so I'm putting it together here. After writing (and reading) so many triathlon race plans, it would be easy for me to take this more casually. But since I DO have a plan and because I have serious personal goals, I thought I'd put it out for those interested.

The title of this post reflects my mental focus. I learned quite sometime ago from Coach Kirsten Lewis about the use of affirmation questions as part of the mental game. I have also been thinking about how I see myself in relation to running and how that view has been limiting and possibly gotten in the way of how I perform. In my attempt to override that on a mental level I've got 3 affirmation questions I'll be asking myself. Some of this may sound narcissistic but it isn't about what I'm telling other people. Normally these are just private questions that I want to play in my head as things get tough during the race. I'm just sharing here for any insight they may give you for your own preparation and performance.

Mental Focus (affirmation questions):
  1. What if I am a better runner than I think? 
  2. What if this is supposed to feel this way?
  3. What does it take to achieve my greatness?
Overall Goals:
Experiential: Absorb and enjoy the excitement, enthusiasm, and support. Be grateful for being able to race and for the love and support of family, friends, and volunteers. Thank people, Smile, Race joyfully. Embrace the pain and push to my limits.
Process: Monitor HR and mile pace. Control pace at the beginning to finish strong. Take in calories and water on the course at planned intervals. Run the shortest route.
Performance: Primary goal is to be sub-3:55 for a Boston Qualifying time. The truly honest stretch goal is 3:51(rarely do I publicly admit to this goal).
Outcome: No specific goal for place - finish time is what matter most to me.

Keys for Success:
  • Pacing: miles 1-9 @ 9:00/mi. average pace, HR 120's; miles 10-18 @ 8:51, HR 130's; miles 19-26.2 let it go and fight to finish strong.
  • Following through in utilizing the mental game plan.
  • Staying calm and controlled during the first 2/3rds of the race - getting ahead of myself because I feel good could lead to 'failure'.
  • Nutrition taken in while walking the aid stations (miles 6.5, 10, 14, 18, 22 for calories); carry salt just in case.
  • Taking shortest route.
  • Running with music.
Race Week:
  • Early bedtime and early rise
  • Make and use lists
  • Roll, grind, wear plantar f. night splint boot
  • Premix ingredients for race morning smoothie (1 scoop protein, 1 scoop UCAN, 1 scoop super greens, 2 scoops beet powder) + coconut milk
Race Morning:
3:30am - get up, blend and drink smoothie, Immodium, supplements, hot shower, bathroom
3:50 - dress, sunscreen
4:?? - shuttle to start - visualize, relax, breathe
4:45 - bathroom
4:50 - easy warm up and muscle activation - stay warm - visualize, mindset, focus
5:00 - drink 1 scoop UCAN, 5 Hour Energy, 5 Perfect Amino, 1 caffeine tab
5:20 - relax, stay warm, line up with 3:50 pace group - visualize, mindset, focus
5:30 - Race Start

Run nutrition timing and plan:
My calorie intake will be limited during the race. I'll carry 2 gels for back up but intend to use Gatoraid supplied on the course at miles 10 (if I need it), 14, 18, and 22. I take in water with that and drink additional water in small amounts at other aid stations as needed. I'll also be carrying a tube of electrolyte salts as a precaution, likely taking some a few times after the 1/2 way point.

List of Stuff (so far):
Race belt and bib #2667
2 gels
Trash bag "shirt"
iPod, headphones, and charger
coconut milk, powder mix
pre-race nutrition in water bottle
foot powder
hat and headband
HR strap
Garmin and charger
night boot
Rubz ball, roller, softball, stick
Post race recovery food
wet wipes
compression socks
sharpie black marker
sleep mask and ear plugs
sunglasses for post-race

07 April 2016

Nutrition Race Report – Ironman 70.3 California (Oceanside) 2016

Addendum to my race report:
I was asked about my nutrition so I’m sharing here, along with some details I left out of the original report. My goal for food consumption on race day is to first, supply enough calories to keep me going and second, generate as little waste as a result. Without a colon I have limited storage space for waste.

I had my planned pre-race breakfast as soon as I could, at 4:15.  It was a blended drink with 16 oz water, 4 oz coconut milk, ½ scoop vegan protein (10g), 2 scoops beet powder, ½ scoop greens powder, and 2 scoops of Generation UCAN. I took supplements as well: 4 Extreme Endurance magnesium pills and my antibiotic.

At the race venue I sipped a 16oz water bottle with Osmo Pre-load. I also took 1 immodium pill. That was it until I came back from the swim.

In transition I took in Zipfizz mixed in water (similar to things like 5 Hour Energy) as well as 100g caffeine, ½ an immodium pill, and 6 Perfect Amino tablets.

On the bike I had 600 cal. of Heed (maltodextrin carbohydrate) mixed in 18oz water, plus some ShotBloks chews in case I needed more calories. If I had chosen to go with what I used to fuel with I would have planned to consume 900 calories. I’ve been unhappy with my fueling for the past few years so I cut back some as well as going with something different. In my water bottle I had 30 oz of water with 2 Nuun electrolyte wafers dissolved in it.

What I actually did on the bike was take in about 500 or 525 cal of the Heed. I drank all the water plus got another 6-8 oz in at the final aid station. I felt like I was at a slight calorie deficit when I got to T2. In hindsight I could have used more electrolytes. I had salts in the bento box but didn’t think to use them.

In T2 I intended to drink another Zipfizz but lost the bottle during the early morning. My plan B was to grab some Red Bull on the course.

For the run I planned to carry a sleeve of ShotBloks (200cal) and to supplement with what was at aid stations if I needed to. I wish I’d grabbed my salts from the bike as I could have used some when I was running.  I consumed the Shot Bloks over the first 8 miles, along with probably 24oz+ of water from the aid stations, and about 10 oz total of Red Bull. The only other thing I grabbed was some Gatoraid. I swished some around in my mouth but didn’t swallow, hoping that would help with electrolytes since I couldn’t think of any other options for getting some. I didn’t bonk or feel underfueled. To me that means I had enough to get me through and it meant no stomach upset.

I only stopped to pee once on the run which tends to indicate that I didn’t hydrate quite enough, though I didn’t feel I was thirsty or in dire need of water. No other ‘waste elimination’ was required which, in my books, is a success. For me, having to go #2 is a bit time consuming and tends to lead to repeating the portapotty visit because once “the seal is broken” it’s harder to hold on the rest of the way.

And a final side note on my plantar F-ing-itis: it is still with me in my right foot. I do my best to manage it with rolling, rubbing, stretching, grinding, and occasional icing. It certainly hurt after the race and was pretty bad on Sunday and Monday. Managed to get back to running on Wednesday to train for the marathon. While it was sore afterward I'm ready to put in my 10 miles on Thursday and hopefully be able to get a 20 miler in over the weekend.