2011 Johnny’s Runnin’ o’The Green Race Report

“Johnston.” I said with a smile. I hopped back in line to give him a hug. It was only fitting to run into CJ at Johnny’s Irish Pub on friday night at 6pm for the packet pickup for The Runnin O’ The Green. For some strange reason I had thought this would be less crowded time to grab my race number. I mean who goes out on a Friday night to a bar when there is a race the next morning?

Apparently…… a lot of people. And…. not everyone is a runner! Who would have thought!

It’s an old bar and packet pickup was in the back. “It’s not the most organized pickup” Johnston commented. I smiled.

“It’s Bill Kehoe though.” And he nodded. I would do just about anything for Bill Kehoe. Including standing in a bar on Friday night. Bill Kehoe is one of Rochester’s most legendary race directors. He’s the last of the old school. Some of his races have chip timing, some don’t. Packet pickup is the best. Race number, T shirt. Cotton long-sleeved T shirt. No baggie full of ads I don’t look at, lotions I don’t use……. it gives me the chance to step back into the way it was.

To be waiting with Johnston made it even more nostalgic. The man’s a 10 hour Ironman but prefers to adventure race with Grimm, harass me non stop…… one of our oldest friends. I remember him and Grimm taking me mountain biking in the late 90′s and I thought they were insane when they made me walk across a log with my bike on my shoulder. That’s chump change compared to what they do now.

I love the history of our sport, including the running history.

When I saw Bill Kehoe I have him a hug. Best man in the world. He looks good. His voice is still deep and distinct.

On the way out I ran into one of my athletes Matt…… and I marveled at the new school combining with the old school. Some days I wish Matt could have been here from the beginning. For now he has to rely on my stories of ‘The old days’……… not because they were better or different…… to me sport history is fascinating. I really got to see our sport change through the ages. In a positive way.

When I raced the Subaru Series when it was the President’s Choice Series you were given a wristband with three pieces of velcro. At the end of the swim you ripped one piece off and handed it to a timer, same with the bike and then with the run. I remember wearing my first timing chip and wondering how this would work.

My love for sport history allows me to have an even deeper appreciation of where we are now.

Back to the race.

I was not happy when I looked at my pacing and fueling plan from the Wizard. My instructions were to run 7:30 miles for a goal time of 37:45. I had done that last year and beaten that time. What? I was frustrated. But I understood, there is a greater lesson here and what is my weakness, running and especially pacing it. Within the plan were the instructions that at mile 3.5 if I felt good to run as fast as I can.

Then coach, at mile 3.5 I am going to run 7:15 for the last 1.5 miles. That would be my I’ll show him. Sometimes the lessons we need to learn are the ones dragged out of us. At least me. Never in my life had I looked at a race plan and thought that was too slow. Perhaps….. that was the plan.

Saturday morning I woke at 6am (this is a sleep in for me) and looked out the window. They are supposed to be removing the pool cover at the pool today and there is more FREAKING snow on the ground. But the roads are clear. I would be wearing shorts. I will never run Johnny’s in tights. I hate running in tights. Shorts and no socks. Just the way I like it. (I might freeze to death but this is my way of giving winter the big old middle finger. Yeah….).

The temp was 33 degrees, race didn’t start until 10:30am (Late… I am usually done with training by then!!!). At 8:00 I embarked on my traditional QT2 pre race breakfast. for those of you dying to know what we eat ….. here you go (the amount will vary by race distance). My disclaimer here is this…… Many athletes will see this and think it is strange. There are a lot of good resources to help you determine what is the most optimal blend of CHO, PRO etc for your race. Because they think it’s odd…. they deem Jesse (the Wizard) as some guy who just pulls this stuff out of his ass.

I don’t think Jesse has ever pulled anything out of his ass except for other people’s head’s. There is nothing that he hasn’t not only researched, studied,  data collected on, graphed in a bar, pie, dot graph, tested seventeen ways from Sunday. That’s the thing about QT2…. it’s not made up. It’s so thoroughly gone through, and with the case studies that result and the reasoning they provide, well it’s really right there in front of you. You go by the protocol and then they tweak it to fit you just right. It’s like a good pair of jeans that fits, but could be better. They tailor them to you.

2.5 hours before this particular race:

1 scoop whey protein
1.5 Cups of unsweetened organic applesauce
1 banana
1 bottle Powerbar Performance.

Whey protein: studies have shown that branched chain amino acids as found in whey protein are extremely helpful in race performance. Of course there are studies that show that it does nothing to enhance performance but aids in muscle recovery after performance. Because of the extensive testing and data collection QT2 does with their athletes and every.thing.they.freaking.do……. I am inclined to buy that it helps. Plus, I like it!

Applesauce…. there are a few reasons for this. On our team we joke that it cleans you the heck out! Another reason, it may help to neutralize the GI system before an event. The trick is that you want unsweetened, not sugar. The whole applesauce thing has worked really well for me since I began with QT2.

The banana…. easy 27 grams of CHO (carbohydrate) and easy to digest.

I mix all of these ingredients together in the Magic Bullet. I don’t like applesauce, but when mixed with the above it just makes the shake a little bit sweeter.

One hour before the race:

caffeine, about 150mg worth.

15 min before the race:

1 powergel with water.

I got to the race with an hour to spare and quickly found my peeps. The change to the Blue Cross Arena compared to where were in 2010 was excellent. There was room! Until the starting line. Whoa. I tried to make my way up further to the front but when I say there was no room, there was no room. It was so jammed that I could not even pick my hands up over my head. People who were obviously walking were ahead of me.

I decided to just not allow it to affect me.

The race began and naturally it was crowded a bit for the first 800 yards or so, but I quickly found room and settled into my pace. My first mile was just below 7:30 and I felt very good. Nothing went through my mind at this point except the words strong, smooth, form. When I am running I don’t really notice others around me, so when Miss Rae came up to me at some point she cried out “Irish car bomb?” And it took me a minute to realize what she said. FaceBook joke. It’s never that I am rude, it’s just that I look straight ahead at someone ahead of me and I just don’t notice who is around me.

Mile 2 was fine as well, mile 3 seems I dropped back 10 seconds. I don’t know why. I didn’t notice that I was. My intention was at mile 3.5 to drop to sub 7:20 pace.

Mile 4 was 7:47…… whoa, I thought to myself, what am I doing out here? I just didn’t have another gear. The gear I have had all through this training block. The one where I was throwing down a few 6:58 mile repeats. I was rested coming into this.

Mile 5: 7:49, whoa, when I had last looked at pace I was at 7:20. I won’t spend a race looking at my watch. I thought I had the feel down.

When I crossed the like at 39:05 for a pace per mile of 7:43. Way off the 7:30 I was planning on keeping. Waaayyyyy off the 7:15 I was thinking I could run.  I was disappointed to say the least. What happened out there…. was what I asked myself. I thought about the training I had just put in. The 7:15 pace I easily kept at a race just a few weeks before. The gains I have made in training over the past 8 weeks.

The excuses I am tempted to use:

I have only run on the road once in the past eight weeks. I don’t think that makes a difference.

It was cold. It wasn’t cold

It was a different course. It was still a pretty flat course. Who cares if it’s three feet down the road.

So what do we do? we look at the things that affect our performance:

Preparation, which is training. I have been spot on with training. One week got ditched due to illness. That’s not enough to skew a race.

nutrition: We are right on with body composition. Yes, I have more weight to drop but there is a plan. Part of me wants to drop it all right now, but I know that this isn’t how it all works.

Fueling: I followed fueling to a freaking T.

Pacing: I could not hold pacing. I dont’ know why.

I got a boatload of compliments on my running form and that I looked strong. Which I suppose means I look good when running. Hey that’s an improvement!

When those four things seem to check out……. you sit back and wonder. Did I just have a seriously off day? I could write a 500 page book with those. It’s no secret my performances have been all over the map the past few years, it’s not something I am ashamed of, it’s part of life. It’s part of sport. It’s what you do with those that matters. You can allow them to define you or you can grow from them.

I choose to grow from them. I have done a lot of growing.

What I do know is this: I am with the right coach. While I have some off days still we are gaining ground. I am on the right plan. It fits me. It exposes my weaknesses and helps me to take them on while at the same time strengthening my strengths. It allows me to build with the season. Geez in April of 2010 I did a flat 70.3 race 25 minutes slower than I did in September on a hilly course. I know my gains come in August and Sept.

It’s one of the reasons I have been around so long. I have faith. I have dreams. One thing I walked away from that finish line today was…… was desire. I want an improved run so badly I can feel myself boil. I have lived so long in the paradigm of “I am a swimmer not a runner” that I believed it for a long time.

Gordo once said this, which might be my favorite quote of his of all time.

I really like Ironman racing as a metaphor for life. It requires a level of emotional maturity that most will never achieve. When you pull it off…you really learn something!” Gordo Byrn

I have done so much Ironman racing, that absolutely rings true for me. It’s why I keep coming back for more. It’s why I will never stop trying. This level of experience has brought me something I can never explain. You stop sweating the small stuff, like what people will think, like the fear of being a failure (or a success). You gain incredible insight to who you are as a human being.

The variables are all lining up. I can see a few places where I can tighten the screws. I am on this path for a reason. I have never been allowed to have the easy way. Where I win everything. Where it’s easy. It has always been an obstacle filled path for me. I like it that way.

Shake it off Eggers. It was an off day. These are the days you draw on. These are the days that are really the most important ones. Keep your eye on the prize, keep your sight in front of you.

Keep your chin up.

Because Eggers…… when you do nail it, you will appreciate it more than anyone in the world ever will.

“When nothing seems to help, I go and look at a stonecutter hammering away at his rock perhaps a hundred times without as much as a crack showing in it. Yet at the hundred and first blow it will split in two, and I know it was not that blow that did it – but all that had gone before.” Jacob Riis

Cycledelic Indoor Cycling Studio

I am a self-described spinning snob. I know that, you know that. We all know that. It’s actually a HUGE character flaw of mine. One that I am working on.

This article describes the ways I believe you can get the most out of your spinning class.

This article talks about how I became such a snob, and talks about why I believe spinning can have a place in multisport training.

When I walk into a spinning class I want a class like I would teach. That’s how much of a snob I am. And since I am not being part of the solution I decided to do some exploring. There is a new indoor cycling studio in town that caught my eye, called Cycledelic. It’s located at 12 Corners in Brighton and in between a Starbucks and Panera Bread. That right there spells invitation.

For the record…. I don’t know the owners. I wanted to go and check out a class and their studio without being on an invite. I pay for my own classes when I do things like this (I insist on that) and I wasn’t asked to review. I like to share the good stuff, if it’s not good I just don’t talk about it. I like to see what’s going on out there.

I am a fan of indoor cycling (also known as spinning) for reasons I listed in the above two links. I tend to train pretty early and I don’t like to head out on by tri or road bike in the dark although I have lots of lights. I am a parent so the option of spending a few hours in the evening on my bike just doesn’t exist. I also have the worry of being hit and not coming home. I would probably not go to a computrainer studio because I have a computrainer, and I don’t feel like lugging my bike around. Plus I am social and I love music. Besides….. I enjoy it. There are things are efforts I can hit on a spinning bike that I can’t hit outside. As I outlined in the above links the positions you can execute on a spin bike lend themselves to overall strength on the road….. when done correctly inside.

In many other parts of the country indoor cycling studios are the rage. Out in California there is YAS… a Yoga and Spinning studio started by former professional triathlete Kim Fowler. Her model has been a huge success. Like yoga studios, these indoor cycling studios offer something a bit different from a big gym indoor cycling program.

We went on Tuesday morning to take Matt’s class. As we walked in I noticed right away the feel was perfect. It was a smooth easy check in. You have the option of purchasing classes online, one at a time, ten at a time. There are two showers a bathroom, and a place to store your gear. Perfect.

 

The studio itself was really unique. The lighting was nice and dim, for some reason I love that. There was a screen in the front of the room. I was a little bit nervous I will be honest. The last time I took a spinning class with a screen the instructor took us on a ‘simulated ride.” Those…. just don’t work. Let’s see what this is about…. I thought to myself.

But let me start with the bike. I have ridden just about every indoor cycling bike on the face of this earth. Spinners to Le monde’s to…. everything. At my regular gym the bikes measure power but…. they are not accurate. Which is fine if you understand that going into the mix.

At Cycledelic they have FreeMotion Fitness S11.9 indoor cycles with the ability to measure power, heart rate, cadence and speed. They also have the option of using the toe clip or an spd cleat.

Below the power console is pictured. What you don’t see is at the top there is a USB port. you can bring your own flash drive, plug it in and then at home download your workout. I forgot to ask what it downloads to, but next Tuesday I am going to give that a try!

I regularly ride with a QUARQ powermeter, so when I ride with power on an indoor cycling bike I can usually gauge how accurate these types of units are. Two of my friends were with me who also train with power. After about 15 minutes we all looked at each other and said the same thing “I think these things are actually accurate”  . They were! That’s a first for me. Knowing that I now can actually use those numbers! Sweet!

Class began and it was obvious Matt has had a good background in cycling and in teaching. Nothing is worse than the poppy little instructor who bounces all over the bike and spins at an rpm of 120 while “climbing a hill.” Talk about nails on a chalkboard.

The screen lit up and I was pleasantly surprised.  As we rode we watched the Paris-Robaix  race. While I read about it online and catch glimpses of the actual race, I had never actually watched a good hour of footage from it. It’s one of the oldest races in cycling and not only have I never watched it for an hour, never on a bike on a screen like this.

What I liked about Matt’s class format is that he had a structure, a profile if you will but he didn’t try to replicate the race we were watching. “You can’t replicate cobblestones inside” He joked but he had a very good class format and structure that coincided with some of the terrain the cyclists were riding as well.

A look at their studio, I like this studio

I liked it. I really liked it. I liked that it’s a cycling studio. I liked the format of the class. I liked watching the video. I liked the music. I liked the atmosphere. One of the beautiful things about indoor rides like this is that you can be a complete beginner and ride next to a world-class athlete and you can  adjust the class to fit you either way.

The prices of the classes are right on par with what yoga studios in the area offer. $16 a class is right in line with what other places charge and their of course are some really good deals with Groupon and like many, they have class package options.

My impressions: this place is a hidden gem. If you want a quality workout on an indoor bike, this is your place. I like the whole idea behind it. Like I said this is what is happening in California and New York City, if you follow trends in fitness that’s what you watch. Indoor cycling has been around for over 15 years and this is the next level for it. Like yoga studios you will see more specialty studios popping up like this one.

I highly recommend Cycledelic. I plan on hitting Matt’s class on Tuesday again and I would love to see you there. In fact, let’s plan on it. Then we can walk over and grab a coffee on the way home!!!!

30 Day Juice Challenge

Jesse…. aka “The Wizard” posted a terrific article over on his blog about juicing. I’ve been doing an elementary form of juicing with the magic bullet for over a year now….. I would actually call it smoothie making. My smoothies consist mostly of fruit and water and I tend to pop things in there that I wouldn’t normally eat on my own. Breathe, where I teach yoga makes organic juices that are absolutely to die for, so anytime I really need to get something in I just head over there.  But Jesse’s post got me thinking…. I wonder if I could do 30 juices in 30 days? (note: that did not say drink only juice for 30 days).

One of my wonderful friends hooked me up with her juicer, which is a hugely amazing gesture (thank you MANDY), and we got right down to learning how to juice.

First, let’s steal it right from Jesse’s blog…… the benefits of juicing:

For athletes, the benefits of juicing run pretty deep.  Juicing fruits and vegetables provides a huge dose of phytonutrients (plant chemicals) in a very concentrated, easily absorbed form. This quality, alone, makes juicing whole, fresh, ripe, and raw fruits and vegetables one of the most powerful vehicles for achieving optimal health; upon which speed is built. Here are some of the most commonly touted benefits of juicing:

  1. Many of the common juicing ingredients contain chlorophyll, a substance found exclusively in plants.  It has a structure similar to hemoglobin which is the substance in blood that is responsible for transporting oxygen. Some research has found that consuming chlorophyll enhances the body’s ability to produce hemoglobin, thus improving the efficiency of oxygen transport.
  2. Fresh juices have the ability to deliver a group of nutrients know as enzymes. Enzymes are your body’s work force.  In addition, fruit and vegetable juices are good sources of the traditional nutrients like vitamins and minerals.
  3. Since juicing removes the indigestible fiber of fruits and vegetables, nutrients are available to the body in much larger quantities than if the fruit or vegetable were eaten whole. Because the process of digestion that is necessary when you eat whole foods is bypassed, the body can quickly absorb larger amounts of nutrients from the juices than it can from solid foods.
  4. Finally, fruits and vegetables provide one more substance that is absolutely essential for good health in the athlete – water!

I don’t know about you…… but the benefits sounded good enough to me to give it a shot. Besides nutrition has become a passion of mine and I am constantly trying to learn as much as I can….. nutrition and health are one in the same to be honest…..you only need to  lose your health once to realize that. Check!

My first juice was  simple…. apples and ginger. It was quite good! The type of juicer that I have is the Breville (I ahve been told to get the Vitamix, I just wanted to be sure I would actually use a juicer before I bought anything extravagant!). The Breville eliminates all pulp (I hate pulp), is very easy to use and easy to clean.

Day two we got a little more daring. Curt is much more food adventurous than I am, so we made slightly different juices.

Day two: Apple, Kale, blueberries and ginger!

The preparation is easy!

Pop in the whole apple slice….

Apple, kale, blueberries and ginger juice!

Curty added celery and pomegranate to his juice!

So far I find juicing to be fun. It allows you to be creative and really design to fit your taste. Once we get a few more juices under our belt, we will be doing “juice night” here, making a particular juice for the week. Curt actually made much more than I did and has two jugs of his concoction. I hate celery…. so that’s one way to keep my hands off the goods!

There are lots of ways you can juice….. most economical would be the good old-fashioned blender or magic bullet (the bullet is my favorite and would make someone a great Christmas gift), although these two devices seem to be best for fruit based juices and smoothies. I have been doing the smoothie thing for a while now, here are some tips for that adventure:

1. Use either water, greek yogurt or even skim milk as your base

2. Frozen veggies such as dark cherries, blueberries, and mango give you a sweet drink plus loads of vitamins and antioxidants.

3. Toss in some baby spinach for a serving of vegetables, and you won’t even taste it (I promise!). You can freeze that baby spinach too!

4. Freeze your smoothie for a wonderful frozen treat!

These days there are so many ways to get in those fruits and vegetables. As Jesse outlines in his blog, the benefits of eating fruits and vegetables reach far beyond them being good for you. The vitamins and antioxidants and properties can help enhance recovery and performance. I know a lot of athletes who send $100+ month on supplements and various products that are delivered right to their door. Instead, save some money, eat food in its natural form…. and gain even more from it.

Stay tuned, we will share more of our recipies over the coming weeks!  Juice on!

Strassburg Sock Keuka Lake Triathlon: pre race extravaganza!

 

Memorial Day weekend kicks things off around here. For me it’s the last weekend of being at home. Our summer is filled to the brim with travel. Between race announcing, coaching and racing myself there is something every weekend. I love it. What I love is that we do this as a family. The races I announce, Curt races, Luc is part of the Score-This race crew and then he races.

It’s like a family picnic each weekend when I am with the Score-This Crew. Are we close? We’ve all known one another since before 1999. We’ve raced together, gone to one another’s weddings, gone to funerals together, watched one another’s children grow. You name it, we’ve done it. … we are a close bunch. That’s what makes these weekends so special.

Here is Rich and I at Lake Placid

Here is myself, Rich and Jeremy at Lake Placid

Here is what we have coming up for you this week, it’s going to be wicked busy and ultra fun!

Strassburg Sock Keuka Lake Triathlon pre race webinar, presented by Towpath Bike Shop:

  • Wednesday 8pm. Free. Click here to register.
  • Join me for an in depth review of the course, all distances, all races), the flow of race day and everything you will need to know for a successful race.

FREE CLINICS on Saturday at the Strassburg Sock Keuka Lake Triathlon 

We have a GREAT series of FREE clinics happening on Saturday before the race! Check them out!

  • 2:00-2:45pm  Clinic – RUN SMART running analysis-  TBD Hall/ Room TBD
  • 3:00-3:45pm  Clinic – Training with Technology presented by Endurance Factor – TBD Hall/ Room TBD
  • 4:00-4:45pm Clinic – How to maximize your transition presented by Mary Eggers from QT2 Systems
  • 5:00-5:45pm Clinic – First Timers Clinic – What you need to know for your race present by Curt Eggers and Brian Emelson from Towpath Bike
  • 4:30, 5:30, 6:30pm  Clinic – How to fix a flat – The WEED Physical Arts Building presented by Towpath Bike (packet pick up area)

What I love about this race is exactly what I stated above. It’s like coming to a family picnic. Not only with the Score-This crew… but with all of the people I get to see. I am of course your race announcer, and it’s such an honor to be able to announce for you in the morning and bring you through that finish line. It’s one of those things… I can’t believe I get to do!

mom announcing

Trust

On Sunday I rode with Les, from Tryon bikes. He turned out to be a terrific riding partner, one of the best in fact. A former mountain biker turned roadie… just a few months out of surgery, building his mileage.

When people ask me what pace I am riding, I never know. I stick to my HR zones as they need to be that day. Sunday it was a simple zone 1 long ride. It was beautiful out. Sun, some wind, and good company. We looped back to Mendon to join up with the final Tour de Cure ride and I got to ride with those folks for a few miles too.

It’s been awesome to watch these folks build up their mileage since December. I love watching people achieve new distances, things they didn’t think were possible. The excitement on their faces…. that’s what I am here for in the first place. As we rode I felt at peace. I wasn’t chasing any particular speed, just my own HR zone. Fueling like I know how, loving every minute of those five hours.

It’s taken me the better part of the last 6 months to build my health back. It’s been a long road. I haven’t talked about what happened…. I might never. It was a deliberately  small group of people who helped me through it, who carried me to be honest. Who let me have moments of frustration and anger. Who walked me through the small stepping-stones of coming back.

I didn’t plan for all of it to happen this way. It just kind of did. I have never been through anything like that before, and it caused me to get really…. really comfortable with being uncomfortable. It was beyond getting comfortable at a hard effort or with the fatigue of training. That… is actually now the easy part. When I am sore I relish in the feeling of being able. I never have the feeling of “UGH, I don’t want to do this session.” because I have been in the position where I wished for that kind of pain.

What it took to get from there to here was a tremendous amount of trust. I was in uncharted territory as far as training went. There was a lot of “Should we even be doing this.” and then a lot of “I am not sure, but let’s move forward anyway.” Training became the way for me to heal and get through more than it was about physiologically becoming stronger.

The stronger part has been happening in the process.

It’s funny because I don’t really look at paces or power. I keep a loose eye on all of that. I am present only in the process to be honest. I know the rest will come with time.  I was in a position where I could not dictate the timeline of when my body would respond. I knew it would be slower than usual. So I let go and I leaned into it. I leaned on the few people who were in the know. And we just kept moving forward.

Something really magical has happened in this process. I had never lost the joy of training through all of this…. I have always looked at my athleticism as a gift. But now there is more than joy in training. There is absolute happiness. Yet I had never lost the love.

It’s like I have been born again so to speak. The gift of being an athlete feels more like a gift. It’s absolutely beautiful to me.

When everything came down last year I went through a period of “why me.” And as I stand over on this side of it I think “Thank God it was me.” Because I can handle hard things. I can handle a rocking boat. I can not be shaken by a diagnosis and I can keep moving forward.

There was a substantial wind coming from all directions this past weekend. Actually that’s been the theme of late. I love the wind to be absolutely honest with you. It teaches you not to fight, but to relax. It teaches you that if you tense up and white knuckle the handlebars that you are one step away from getting knocked down.

The wind teaches you trust. Lean in….. relax…. trust that it will hold you up. Trust that you don’t know where the end of the wind lies but know that it will. And then another gust will come and you have to relax even more.

Wind is metaphorical. At least for my life. When that big gust comes you just have to take it. Smile. Keep moving forward through it. Trust that it won’t hurt you and if it does hurt you there will be people around you to help you get back up. Never fight that wind, because it will fight you back and it will win. Wind is bigger. Wind is stronger. You have to learn to roll with it and how to accept it while continuing to move forward.

As I rolled into the driveway I again had that feeling of 100% gratitude. It was a hard journey. Not one that I could have learned anywhere else, from anyone else. If there is one thing I am good at it’s paving my own way…. with a lot of help from a few people I can trust with my life. It’s been a long and strange road….. but it’s taught me so much. It’s taught me a lot about trust. Trust in the process, trust in myself and trust in the universe.

And it’s something I will never be able to teach.

my view