Tuesday, June 19, 2012

PSA - Hydrating for Sport

I haven't done a Public Service Announcement (PSA) in a long time but this one is needed.  I've had this one brewing in the back of my head for a long time and it's now been forced to the top.

In Northeast Ohio the weather has been making some wild swings temperature wise.  We have had some nice days in the 70's to be followed the next day with a 20 degree rise into the 90's.  It has made it hard to train for the extremes of race day, but everyone is in the same boat.

This past weekend at the Maumee Bay Tri/Du I saw some carnage caused by the heat/humidity as well as the efforts put forth by the athletes.  The sprint race wasn't too bad because the duration is about 1 hour shorter, but I was still feeling the effects of the heat and humidity since I was pushing the pace very close to the red-line.

Another reason to put this PSA out is for all of my Crossfit friends.  Some comments have gone out about being properly hydrated before the workouts, especially since we sometimes red-line ourselves during a WOD and are often indoors where the temp could be warmer than outside.  I couldn't agree more about being hydrated but I just wanted to add some of my own thoughts based upon my 10+ years as an endurance athlete. I am not a certified coach, nutritionist, or athletic trainer.  I do not have an educational background in exercise physiology or biomechanics or health.  This is just from experience.

This information is for EVERYONE.  All sports (cycling, running, swimming, Crossfit, soccer, volleyball, etc.).  All levels of experience.  I have met a lot of newbies in these sports that can learn something and perhaps a veteran athlete will help me learn something new.

 So what does it mean to be properly hydrated.  Simply put it's having enough water in your body so the body can perform normal functions.  Your blood consists of approximately 70% water.  This helps move all of the nutritents, oxygen and other good stuff throughout your body.  Okay, basic function.

Water also helps move the bad stuff out of your body......think urine.  Sometimes the urine also has good stuff that the body just doesn't need anymore.

As we look a little bit deeper into the body, water also helps move electricity through our body.  Little electrical impulses that move to and from the brain telling our muscles to move or providing information from our senses.


So when we are working out we get all gross and sweaty.  The body is using the water inside to try and cool us down.  The sweat carries the heat to the surface of the skin where it can be evaporated away.  Except when the humidity is too high.  Then the water has nowhere else to go and it just sits on the skin or soaks into our clothes.

We start to turn into a big salt lick because the water sitting on the skin is primarily loaded with sodium...salt.  There are also other minerals like potassium, calcium and magnesium.  These minerals are also referred to as electrolytes.  These minerals help electricity move through the water in the body.....sounds kind of important to me.

Do you see some connections here?  Water = good.  Electrolytes in water = good.

One comment I have a hard time with is to drink water until your urine is clear.  I prefer to see a light yellow color when I pee....think watered down lemonade.  If the urine is clear we may be hydrated, but we can also be over hydrated.  This can lead to the blood being thinner than usual and the electrolyte balance to be a little out of whack. 

In my experience, athletic performance is tied directly to my electrolyte balance.  If I have sweated profusely and have not replaced my sweat with the right type of fluid the body can't respond to my brain the way I want it to.  Signals don't get to where they need to be in a timely manner.

Of course I have usually experienced this with longer workouts and races that last over two hours.  Few  Crossfit workouts last longer than 30 - 45 minutes but the effects can last longer than the WOD.

Even a recovery bike ride or run can have a negative after effect if the sweat is pouring out of the body.

Back to this past weekend at Maumee Bay State Park.  I was watching some of the Olympic triathletes (1.5k swim, 40k bike, 10k run) crossing the finish line.  I watched the overall female winner cross the line and was beginning to shutdown.  Her movements were erratic as she tried to stabilize herself.  She needed some help getting to a chair.  I wouldn't be surprised if she needed an IV from the paramedics.  I saw several other people cross the finish line and fall into chairs or lean against the metal gates to collect themselves.  I'm sure they were spent from the effort put into racing but with the added stress of the heat/humidity the body was having trouble regulating its heat.

So how do we properly hydrate for exercising in extreme heat?  The market is flooded with products.  Some are advertised on TV (Gatorade, Powerade, Sobe) and some are advertised to specific markets via magazines (Nuun, Hammer, Clif, Gu). 

I'm not going to promote a specific brand because I use products from several companies.  It's also a personal choice based upon flavor, texture, desired affect, sweat rate, weight, sport, etc.  You see what I mean.

The latest "craze" is coconut water.  The new super drink with high amounts of electrolytes.  Personally I like this craze because I've seen it work and I drink it myself.  The problem is that the manufacturers sometimes have a hard time keeping up with demand.  Zico makes a great chocolate flavored coconut water that is near impossible to find right now.

One promotion I will make is for the company I buy my stuff from..... Great Race Nutrition.  I like this on-line retailer because they have a huge range of products, and most likely they are in stock.  The owner is an athlete himself with a great background in running, triathlon, cycling and has used the products he sells.  He understands the benefits of the products and can help someone figure out which product may work for them. 

So what do I do?  When I can't stand drinking plain water anymore I pop a tablet of Nuun into my water bottle.  They have some nice flavors and NO SUGAR.  During a race Nuun allows me to combine my fluid intake with Powerbar Gels without getting too loaded on carbs which could lead to stomach distress.

I also look for products that have a little higher amount of sodium/potassium than other products.  Through trial and error I know I need the sodium to keep my head on straight.  Without the proper electrolytes I loose focus.  This results in me falling off my nutrition plan and forgetting I am in a race.  Both of which means I'm now just a participant instead of a competitor.

Funny story...a couple of years ago I was preparing for the multi-day race, American Triple T.  I was drinking water and bottles with Nuun.  During that time I also had a blood draw for my annual physical.  When I finally saw the doctor he was a little concerned about the high levels of potassium, and other electrolytes, in my blood.  I told him about my pre-race hydration and everything was okay in his books.

I hope this didn't become too long of a read and you are able to get something out of it.  This is just my two cents and is simply from my experience.  Drink plenty of water before, during and after working out, but I would also recommend having a good strategy for replacing all of the nutrients and minerals that may be lost during exercise.

I welcome any additional comments or criticism.

Either way....Game On.  Just do it safely.

Results Posted for Maumee Bay Sprint Tri

Just wanted to post my splits and final results for the sprint tri on Father's Day. 

Swim       11:05
T1             1:02
Bike        36:36
T2           ------  added into either the bike or run
Run          20:34

11th overall when the elites are added in and 2nd in my age group.

I'm very happy with all of the splits.  A sub 20 minute 5k would have been awesome.

My schedule is pretty crazy for the rest of the summer so my only confirmed races now are the Rev3 Sprint/Half combo in September.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Happy Father's Day/Sprint Tri Race Report

First off the bat Happy Father's Day to all the Dad's out there.  Now more than ever kids need a good male figure to help them learn and grow.  We hear about all of the bad stuff out there but there a lot of men out there helping build the future generation.  Some may not be dad's but they certainly act the part and should be thanked as well.

So in addition to it being Father's day it was also race day.  And if I am posting a race report the same day as the race....you know I must be super jacked about the race.

HFP Racing has the second stop of their race series at Maumee Bay State Park in Oregon, OH.  With the race being in close proximity to Cleveland (and Toledo, Michigan) the race talent is amazing.

Team Snakebite was gearing up to have a great showing at the race in many different categories.  Tri, Du and Aquabike.  Sprint and Olympic.

There were also people from many other clubs and teams.  Bike Authority Fleet Feet, Spin Second Sole Multisport, Cleveland Tri Club, Grunt Girl Racing, Team Toledo.

Aimee and I left home at 5AM to have plenty of time to get my transition area in place and to set up the tent and team banner.  It also helps to be there early because with some many people there that we know it becomes a social event.

While waiting around for the races to start Big Daddy Diesel comes over to say hi.  It's always good to see him and catch up before and after the race.

About 20 minutes before the race I put on my wetsuit and warmed up in the water. I wanted to see when the water gets deep enough to swim. It would be a fast start because I would be racing the sprint triathlon (750m/23k/5k).

I backed down to the shorter race because I was more prepared for the distance with several great 5k's under my belt so far.

We watched two waves go off before the 40 - 49 men took to the water. As we lined up we joked about who would be drafting off who and no one wanted to be in the front row.  I pulled my teammate Chris up to the starting mat and got ready.  With ten seconds to go I started my watch and dug in.

At the word go we sprinted into the water.  Once the water was up to my knees and I couldn't get my feet over the water line I took two dolphin dives into the water and started swimming.  With the quick start I was breathing every stroke to my right sighting frequently to stay on track.

I was breaking clean water and only saw one person near me. The swim course is rectangular with three buoys on each side.  When I reached the middle buoy I started catching the wave in front of us.  I had to swim around a couple of people but I was past them pretty quickly.  Once switched my breathing to the left side so I could spot the next buoy which would turn us to the left and approximately 300+m into the swim.

After the turn I was able to get into my race breathing pattern.  Another left turn and we headed back to the beach and T1.  This was the first time I was aware of someone from the starting wave passing me.  So until the final results are posted I will say that I was second out of the water from my start wave.

Once I touched sand I stood up and ran towards transition.  I hit the split button of my watch and noticed is was not on stopwatch mode.  I started an interval set so I didn't know my swim split.  No problem, that is what the timing chips are for.

In transition I had a hard time getting my feet out of my wetsuit.  Since getting the XTerra Vortex my feet keep getting stuck. It never happened with my QR suit.  I think a small modification to the leg openings and I will be okay.

After I freed my feet from the wetsuit trap I put on my bike stuff and headed out of transition.  On my bike I changed watch mode and hit the split button....it was somewhere around 14 minutes.  Aimee said I was out of the water/on the beach in 10 minutes. I put on my sunglasses and settled in for the 23k (14.25 mile) ride.

With the watch interval timer running the alarm was beeping at me.  The time was so screwed up I finally stopped the watch all together.  I took the watch off and stuffed it in my Bento box.  I wasn't going to worry about the run splits and just run my ass off.

I passed a couple of people quickly then slowly caught a couple more during the 32 minute ride.  I was only passed by one person, my teammate Chris. He rolled by me and kept on going and had a nice lead on me.  He is a very strong cyclist and not in my age group so I cheered him on.

I had taken a PowerGel (2x caffiene) halfway through the bike to prepare me for the run.  At the pace I was keeping I would need to little extra boost.

As I went back into the park people from the Olympic race were heading out for their 2 loop 40k ride. I saw a couple of friends/teammates.  As I approached the dismount line I took my feet out of my shoes and ran into T2.

Helmet off, shoes on, grab visor and sunglasses and I was out of the transition area.  As I made the left turn under the exit banner I saw my teammate Chris.  I caught up to him as we entered the run course and the MC announced, "Two Snakebite Racers are making the turn onto the run course."  I raised my arms in response and was jacked up for the run.

I patted Chris on the butt as I passed and was hoping we could run together.  After the race he admitted that he had put to much into the bike and couldn't stay with me.  It didn't matter because it is still fun to race with a good friend.

I was putting the hammer down for the 3 mile run around the lagoon.  The course is never far from the race site and people are cheering you on along the path between the parking lot and beach.  I could also see and cheer for friends and teammates.

I caught a couple of people during the first half mile.  Around the 1 mile mark I could hear foot steps behind me.  I thought it was Chris picking up his pace.  The footsteps finally passed me.  I couldn't tell what race this person was in because he was wearing calf sleeves.  I was hoping he was in the duathlon but it wouldn't matter because I couldn't match his pace or stay with him.

More sprint triathletes were returning from the run turn-around so I was trying to gauge my position.  I think I either passed a lot of people on the swim or closed the gap with the two previous waves, I was in a great position. 

As I approached the beach area I saw two Spin teammates, Adam and Bruce.  Right behind them on of our young SBR team member Josh.  He is a rock star running entering his sophomore year of high school.  He was about 50 yards behind Adam and Bruce.  As we ran past each other I told him to catch the guys from Spin.  After the race I was talking with Bruce and he said Josh passed him like he was standing still.  This kid loves to race.

I reached the turn-around for the 5k and tried to maintain my pace as best I could.  I didn't want anyone catching/passing me but I wasn't sure if I could catch anyone ahead of me. 

More sprint triathletes/duathletes were on the course now and I saw more teammates but I just couldn't spare the breath to offer encouragement.  I picked off one more athlete about 400 yards from the finish line and promptly doubled over to catch my breath when I was done.

I had pushed myself harder during the swim, bike and run than any other sprint.  There was a big fear that I would blow up at some point during the run but I managed to hold it together and nail a great race.  I'm still amazing myself as I push the limits further with each race.

After I caught my breath I walked over to the guy who finished right before me.  I said, "Please tell me you did the duathlon".  He said "No".  Then he told me we are in the same age group.....DAMN.  That was okay because he earned the win for the age group because he caught and passed me on the run. Later I was told that he is going to the Sprint Tri World Championships this year.....soooooo he has that going for him.

Until they publish the final results I do not have any splits.  I am very interested to see what my run time was.  My race time was 1:09:33.  This netted me second in the age group and 6th overall of age group athletes.  Even with some of the elite racers added in I may still be in the top ten overall.

And Josh.....he started two waves ahead of me, approximately 4 minutes, and he finished 22 seconds behind me in the overall times.  It was cool seeing his name right below mine in the overall standings.  Of course there is 30 years difference between us and he is just going to keep getting faster and stronger.

I congratulated my fellow triathletes and spent the rest of the morning cheering for all of my friends and teammates.  Snakebite did very well and very likely took home hardware for just about everyone. 

There were some huge PRs put down and some first time distances achieved.  I had more energy after my race was done while cheering for people. 

I have to profess my undying love for Aimee.  She is the best when it comes to cheering, taking pictures, and supporting me on race day.  Plus she cheered for everyone else on that course. 

Race details will be posted once they are posted on the race site.

If you want to see some pictures Aimee took of the race go here.

We packed up our stuff around noon and headed home.  For Father's Day my brother hosted dinner.  Aimee and I got back and took a power nap before getting ready for dinner.  We had a great time together as a family as we laughed about all sorts of stuff new and old. 

Spending time with family and friends.  How can that not make for a perfect day.

Game On my friends.

Friday, June 08, 2012

Triple T 2012 - Race #4

I don't know which is harder.  Waking up the Sunday morning of Triple T or writing the final race report for Sunday's race.

Being my third time at Triple T I knew what to expect of Sunday morning.  Somehow getting the courage to drag your tired ass out of bed and toe the line for a half iron race.  It's not easy.  Everyone is so tired from the prior two days of racing.  The body just wants to sleep all morning. 

We called it quits at 9:30 the previous night and tried to get as much sleep as possible.  Morning came way too soon.  Race start was 7AM to account for the long day ahead of us.

Once I got out of the bed and started taking in my morning calories, the body was waking up.  Most of my gear was ready the night before so I just needed to gather my nutrition and last minute items.  We rode over to the race site one last time.

I've always tried to be as upbeat as possible at races.  Sunday morning is the most important day to keep a positive attitude....for yourself...and for others.  Negative thoughts lead to a negative race.  There is no room for that type of thinking in triathlon.

I still managed to get in my 1 mile warmup and wish the Cleveland peeps good luck.  I managed to see a couple of friends who were out for the Little Smokies Half that would start immediately after us.

After getting my transition spot set I headed over to the beach.  I gave my final hugs and cheers to all of my friends and lined up for the start.  As I ran down the beach towards the first swim buoy I heard Jen cheering for me and I gave her a thumbs up. 

As soon as the water was thigh deep I started swimming the first loop.  It actually felt good to get moving.  The body knew what to do and was responding to my requested work.  The swim was pretty uneventful.  A couple of times I found myself on the inside line between buoys and wanted to get away from the close contact with people.  I find they just get in my way, or am I in their way.  Regardless, I hate it when a three foot gap between me and another swimmer all of a sudden becomes inches and we are fighting for the same space. 

Plenty of water people....let's play nicely.  As I started the second loop I was merging in with people starting their first loop.  So it was a little more congested but I managed to keep my distance.  I completed my swim in 29:23 which is a very fast time for me but everyone said the swim course was short all weekend.

I changed into my bike stuff and headed out of transition.  None of my transition times were stellar this year.  I was a lot more laid back and took a little extra time transitioning.  T1 was 2:24.

On the bike course my plan was to take it easy the first lap.  I wasn't dogging it but I also was saving some energy for the second lap and the run.  So I needed to ride at a consistent pace and not blow up.  The strategy was paying off as the hills didn't seem as long or difficult as in 2009.  I also think my bike fitness was much better than in '09.  I was more consistent with the indoor spin sessions at the team sponsor Ride and Workout.  I also managed a couple of very good outdoor training rides on the hills of the Cuyahoga Valley.

I was enjoying myself during the ride and chatting with different people whenever I passed, or was passed.  About half way through the first lap I was riding near a co-ed team.  From behind I heard the female teammate compliment me on my calves.  She also liked my unique tattoo.  About that same time Harvey, a new racing friend from Georgia, had caught up to me.  He has a bad ass tattoo about the same size as mine.  His is possibly the only tattoo cooler than mine.  Harvey is a Slayer fan, but I think there is a cool statement made here.  Racing full distance, or any distance, triathlons is like going up against the Grim Reaper.  Sometimes you can outrun the Reaper and sometimes he will chop you down. 

Anyways, I was riding one of the uphills and downshifted.  For the second time of the day my chain slipped off.  Of course I was going uphill and had to stop to get it back on.  No biggie, I just needed to be careful when shifting. 

After the last climb on the state park road there is a small bridge that causes problems.  It has a nasty lip that ejects bottles and can cause some nasty wrecks.  This year there was a volunteer waving a flag and warning people to slow down.  There was also an ambulance on-site just in case someone went down.

Fortunately for me there were no other athletes around so I was able to handle the bridge with a little bunny hop to get over the lip.  I made it clean through that section and made my way back to the race site. 

In between loops we can refill or exchange bottles.  IronBen had a cooler I was able to put my replacement bottles in.  At least our nutrition would be cold for the second loop.

I tried to push the pace a little bit for the second loop but I just wasn't feeling it.  I maintained the same pace for the second loop and made it back to transition safely. 

One thing I noticed during the bike was that I was alone for a majority of the ride.  There wasn't a lot of passing going on. In the previous races I would get passed like crazy during the second loop.  Maybe with my more conservative approach I had more energy and maintained my position better. 

I rode back into transition to get ready for the 13.1 mile run on the Black Lamp Trail.  One thing I was changing for the half marathon was my shoes.  For the other races I wore my regular road shoes.  During the two Oly races I managed to find every..single...large...sharp...rock with my feet.  And since I am a forefoot runner the rocks were stabbing me right at the ball of my foot through possibly the least protected part of the shoe.

So for the half marathon run I decided to run in my trail shoes.  I needed to actually ties my laces in transition since these shoes didn't have Yankz.  But it was worth the time for the extra protection.

I grabbed my PowerGels, hat and water bottle then left T2 for the run.  I jammed 7 gels into the side pockets of my jersey for the run.  I have found my nutrition works best when I take a PowerGel every other mile. 

My plan was to be conservative on the way out and push the pace a little for each return trip.  I knew there would be some walking on the steeper hills, especially if there was no shade.  No shade = no run.  I would power walk until I reached more shade or a specific spot. Once I hit my mark I let out a big breath and set about running again. 

On the first return trip I did increase my pace a little on the downhills but I couldn't drain myself too much.  I would still have another 6.5 miles to run.  I started seeing more people and offering words of encouragement.  I also received the second compliment of the day about my tattoo.  It's cool to have someone recognize and appreciate the body art.

I think Janet passed me during the first 3 miles, but she's an animal and is one chick I don't mind passing me.

I was keeping up with my PowerGels and water.  This is key for me because once I get off my run nutrition things go south very fast.  These little bursts of calories are what keep me moving and focused on the race.  I started hitting the 1x and 2x caffeine gels during the second loop.  I could feel the boost these gels provided.

I reached the turn around and knew I was home free.  I climbed the final big hill of the day and reminded myself it was time to push to the end.  I picked up my pace significantly, you will see that in my splits below.

The trails twist and turn but I could see Janet ahead of me.   I had a crazy thought about catching her and how cool it would be for us to cross the finish line together.  She would still have a better time than I because she made up the start deficit to pass me but still....it would be cool.

So I was pretty focused on keeping good running form and pace.  I was locked onto her back as motivation.  And I started to slowly bridge the gap.  As long as she didn't have a burst of speed I was going to catch her. 

I was just about to catch her at the aid station one mile from the finish when she pulled over to get some water.  I yelled at her, "Why are you stopping?!?!?"  She didn't know I was behind her so she was shocked to hear me yelling at her. 

I could have stopped and waited for her but several things went through my mind. 

  • I'm moving pretty good.   
  • If I stop now I many not be able to get back up to speed. 
  • If I stop now I may cramp up...definitely not good.
I was past her before I knew it and kept going.  Once I get within a mile of the finish I just want to get things over with...quickly.

As I approached the finish line I thanked all of the spectators who had been sitting there cheering for us.  At least they were in the shade.

I crossed the line and had to sit down and catch my breath.  I took my shoes off and let the volunteer with the hose spray me down...it felt so good.  Janet crossed the finish line shortly after me and we congratulated each other.

My overall finish time was 5:57:16.
Swim 29:23
T1: 2:24
Bike: 3:20:07
T2: 2:00
Run splits
Lap one           Lap two
10:40              10:15   Mile 1
10:15              10:08   Mile 2
10:26              10:26   Mile 3
9:35                9:54     Mile 4 - downhill to turnaround and then back up the hill.
8:06                7:14     Mile 5 - primarily downhill rollers
9:19                7:40     Mile 6 - more downhill rollers
5:26                3:56   - Last half mile to turn around/finish

I'm happy with my consistent splits and the drop in the final miles.  I'm not sure why the 9:19 for mile 6.  Can't remember if I stopped at an aid station or not.

I'm going to post my final thoughts separately.  But at least I managed to write this race report.