Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Two Saturdays, two half marathons, two PRs and Enduropacks

A little over a month ago I happily announced that I was chosen to be an ambassador for EnduroPacks. I'm writing this as a 30-day review and will be incorporating two race reports into it.

Firstly, what is EnduroPacks?

EnduroPacks, as I've discovered through use, is not a supplement to fuel you through longer workouts. They are more of a recovery based line of supplements. The products they provide are EnduroMulti, Concentrated Electrolyte Spray, Essential Amino Acid Recovery Patch and Glutamine Recovery Complex.


This is the multivitamin of the nutritional set. A huge mix of vitamins, minerals and other wonderful things that you may or may not be getting in your diet. Even if you are getting a lot of them, there are probably some of these that you're missing. This fills in the gaps to help your body keep well maintained and working. Not only that, but it tastes freaking awesome, too. Remember those Flinstones vitamins you would eat like candy as a kid? Well, this is exactly like it, only in a liquid form so you still maintain that adult look.
Concentrated Electrolyte Spray:

See all those Gatorade, Powerade etc sports drinks that you can buy at a gas station, grocery store and
everywhere else under the sun? Basically they're all just Kool-Aid marketed with a different label. And personally, I think you shouldn't be able to purchase sports nutrition at a gas station. I've always preferred to bring just a bottle of water or two while I ride without all the sugar, my stomach and taste buds don't like all the sweet anyway. This is the fix. Squirt 5 pumps into your normal water bottle and go ride. All the electrolytes you're losing while working out will quickly and easily be replaced without you even noticing. Only while I've used it after a run workout have I been able to notice the slight change in flavoring that is not unpleasant. It adds a slightly salty taste that reminds me of a hint of lemon.

Essential Amino Acid Recovery Patch:
Amino acids are the basic building blocks of life. They help break down proteins in order to help
grow and repair body tissue. So why would you not want to have more to facilitate faster and more efficient recovery!? Especially when the little patch, once on the skin, is hardly noticable. I'll admit, at first I was fairly skeptical of this. So I tried it for a week which included a hard speed workout and a fast long run. Being used to feeling pretty drained the next day and ending up taking the day off after each workout that's exactly how I expected to feel. When I woke up the next day I was ready to do the speed work again, only harder this time. Now, after a few weeks of doing any workout and using this patch afterwards I continue to feel great day after day. The only catch with this is that you look like you're wearing a nicotine patch. This is something that a couple of the ambassadors from EnduroPacks have addressed, but all in all it isn't really a detractor. I find that where I place it isn't inconspicuous and therefore haven't been asked if I was quitting smoking.

Glutamine Recovery Complex:

Along with the Amino Acid patch, these glutamine pills are another great recovery tool. Glutamine is
a naturally occuring amino acid in the human body and under normal conditions the body is able to generate enough to recover the body from the day's activities. When you are working out and training for anything the body is put under more stress and takes longer to recover (obviously). The Glutamine Recovery Complex is another tool to pick up the slack that your body cannot produce. I can wholeheartedly tell you that with the Glutamine Recovery Complex my joints have felt better than they have ever felt while training for an event.
EnduroPacks simply works. They have all the medical research jargon on their website and you could read it and get all sorts of feel goods, but what it all boils down to is that I can train hard then get up the next day and do another hard workout without feeling like your muscles and joints hate you. I've always been a bit wary, so for those of you who are wary of claims put up by companies I understand where you're coming from. This stuff isn't a false claim. Enduropacks will help you push to higher levels of performance by easing the recovery. I've proven this to myself over the two hard races that I did last month.

Pricing: $75/mo for 1 mo - $69/mo for 3 mo - $63/mo for 6 mo - $59/mo for 12 months

The pricing is the only thing that I was a bit shocked about. It does run a bit steep. BUT, it's worth it. Trust me, even if you are just training for your first half marathon or going for the overall podium, the value provided by the help in recovery is worth the price.

Half marathon #1
Prairie State Half Marathon - 12Oct2013 1:40:20 6/41 AG 66/892 OA PR!
So, I've been training for a full marathon in January and my coach told me that of these two half marathons I could pick one to race. I chose this one since others from my recruiting battalion were going to be running it and I wanted to make sure I beat them! 

I started off comfortably around 7:00-7:15 pace and held it there. Talked to a few people along the way until they got too tired to keep talking and then I moved on. The course was great. I was expecting it to be a road half since I didn't pay attention to the race details online. It was a nice surprise when we made the turn onto the crushed limestone trail. And this is one of the few things that I'll give Illinois props for, their trail system is pretty incredible. The race was an out and back with 95% of it being crushed limestone, only times it wasn't was when we crossed under a bridge or on a wooden walkway. Once I hit the turn around I started pouring on the suffering to better my position, which may have ended up hurting my time in the end. about 2 miles to the finish the wheels started to fall off. I started walking a bit and some of the people I had been with at the beginning started to pass me up. Once I was within .5 mile I had to start running again, you can't walk across the finish line! I knew that I would PR with this race because in the past I hadn't been training at all and just ran the half. I was shooting for a 1:38, but wasn't too sad about the results.
After getting my first PR

Coming off of the race my coach had me do a really light week. I was just expecting an easy half, but after I told him how I was feeling leading into the race thanks to EnduroPacks he told me to race it, but faster this time. I was a little nervous about it because I hadn't done hard weekends like this in the past. 

Half marathon #2
Des Plaines River Trails half marathon - 19Oct2013 1:35:38 1/14 AG 5/250 OA
I started with a very slow, easy 2 mile warmup before we started the race and timed it to be completed within 15 minutes of the start. I'd been at the race since 0545 since my friend, Jeff Clinton, was running the 50 mile and I told him that I would drive.

The first mile was a lot faster than I planned on, 6:50. The three of us that were leading the race mentioned to each other that we were running too fast, but added "Where are all the fast people?" haha. Starting with a 2.3 mile loop south and then heading north through the trails to the half way. Two of the three passed me around the 3 mile mark and the overall winner came bounding by and crushed everyone. This race I tried a new fueling plan and I think that it helped out when I started to feel the drain about 5k from the finish. I had a gel 4.5 miles in and then again at 9 miles. Considering that I had done an extra 2 miles before the race I was very happy when I surpassed the 10 overall mile mark and then again when I was 5k from the finish. I could tell that I was walking the line between doing my best and blowing up, so I pulled it back a slight bit. My goal was to not run above 8:00 on any mile and I did just that. I kept it down below that mark. Like any race, when I came within the .5 mile mark I picked it up to push it across the finish. I didn't want anyone sneaking up on me to pass me at the last sprint. I had originally thought that I was sitting somewhere around 7th overall and had no idea where I was sitting in my age group, but when I crossed the line they told me I was fifth overall!! And when I checked the race results at home I had a good feeling about my age group, with the overall out of AG standings that meant that I had taken my first age group win!! That's what I call a GREAT race!!

AG winner!!
After I finished I had a quick bite to eat, got changed into my cycling kit and rode my bike on course to find my buddies, Jeff Clinton, Jon Kettley and Marcella Martinez. After finding Jon and Marcella (Marcella ran her first half marathon!!) I took off to find Jeff. I found him at his 31 mile mark, he was looking good. Overall it was around 40 miles on the bike. When I got back to the finish line I got back into warm clothes, put on my EnduroPacks Amino Acid Recovery Patch and took a nap. By the time I woke up I was already feeling good again. Good thing, too, because I had a little over an hour drive back home.

Overall thoughts on EnduroPacks and the races:
I've been running competitively for a few years now and I've always gone in a cycle of feeling great, training hard, body starts hurting and taking time off to recover. This "off-season" has been some of the hardest training that I've done since I started racing. Training for multiple half marathons, and the end season goal of the IceBreaker half AND full marathon on Jan25/26 and the Tour of Sufferlandria, also starting on the 25th has put my schedule full to the brim of hard work. Without a doubt in my mind I have been able to push hard continuously thanks to EnduroPacks. I wake up feeling refreshed even if I got my speed work done the night before and haven't had a full day of recovery quite yet. These races proved to me that the recovery assets provided are helping me to push harder and reach further in my athletic career. And this is only the beginning...

-Two PRs!
-EnduroPacks really works and keeps me feeling great after hard workouts!
-AG win and 5th overall! Plus, I didn't get chicked!
-Figured out a better fueling strategy

-Price is a bit high, but well worth it.
-That's really all that's bad!!

A huge congrats to my friends, Jeff Clinton, Jon Kettley and Marcella Martinez. Jeff finished his first 50-miler 6 days after running the Chicago Marathon, Jon did both half marathons with me and Marcella completed her first half marathon!

A huge thanks to my coach, Jason Restuccia, for helping me believe that I can push hard even when I feel like giving up. To my wife, Marnie for watching my little girl while I train and race. And to EnduroPacks for supporting my recovery and racing. Without them this would be a whole lot more painful!!

Check out the following link for 10% off any order from EnduroPacks and to see how they can help you achieve your next goal!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

ZOMBIES!!!!! A Run For Your Lives 5k Race Report!



Let me start off by saying this race is flippin sweet. I also didn't pay for this one, which made it that much sweeter. Thanks, Nicole for hooking me up with The RFYL team and the free entry.

So, I was forwarded an email by an affiliate of mine from looking for a couple bloggers who would like to run their race in return for a race report and to share a coupon code with friends and family to get them out for the fun event, too. I was more than happy to spread the word and get more people running. I started with the usual medium to spread the word about things; Facebook. Then I branched out to coworkers and friends face to face. Had a lot of interest, but due to the short notice was only able to get one coworker to join with me. William was pumped. 

So, Run For Your Lives zombie 5k. For those who are not completely aware of what it is, I'll put their main video below. Essentially you can choose to be a runner or a zombie. Runners obviously try and make through unscathed, zombies obviously try and prevent that. And if you dress cool while doing either, you rock.

The "Inedibles" haha

Sweet huh? The goal is simple, you have three flags (Think flag football) and it is your goal to make it through 3.1 miles of obstacles, zombie fields and general mayhem with at least one of those flags to be called a Survivor and to earn a Survivor medal.

Easy? Maybe. Depends on your strategy and how much you work with or use those around you. Are you the type to proverbially step on your friends to ensure your survival? Are you the friend who is getting sacrificed for the greater good?

William and I discussed strategy while driving up since it was a good 1.5 hour drive. We decided to take it head-on and just gun for it. We figured there would be very few of the zombies that would chase after a sprinter. We turned out to be right.

We started in the 12:30 wave and took right off. The course was located on a motocross track, so it was pretty "hilly" with all the jumps they had on course. Within 1/4 mile I had already ninja rolled while evading the first set of zombies and gave myself a pretty good scraping of skin off my arm.

Doesn't seem like much, but it's been over a week and a half and it's still bleeding.
From there was a mud pit with barbed wire overtop, which meant we were going to be muddy right off the bat. Nice! Ran around through a second zombie field, which was easy enough. They were spread a bit, but not so far that you didn't have to juke left and right occasionally. After a brief jaunt through a wooded area we came to the second obstacle, a large, smoke-filled tent with elecrical wires hanging from the ceiling. How do you know they were electrified, you ask? Well, you could hear them crackling as the fog machine filled the area. And it wasn't a faint crackle!

The first mud pit with barbed wire.

Dodging through those and ducking back out of the tent brought us to the longest zombie field we'd seen yet. This is where I lost my first flag. Our technique of just blowing past them was working until we found the first one who would actually chase after us. We each lost a flag, but I guess their rules are that they can only take one flag per runner per zombie area. Smart, as I can see people being upset that they didn't want to run and lost all three in a matter of seconds. Anyways, after I got my flag taken the zombies started cheering for us and we both gave a bunch of high-fives as we ran off into the next wooded area.

This wooded area brought us back out to where we could see the beginning of the course, where we saw the rest of our 12:30 wave. We were pretty far ahead of them and it wasn't much longer before we started passing people in the 12:00 wave. More zombie fields and more mud brought us to the next major obstacle. A particularly steep hill that had a pipe pouring water down it to make it extra muddy. Not too bad, I had my trail shoes on and there were ropes strung along it to help you pull yourself up. Not to make things too easy for us, there was a zombie group at the very top! Already with an elevated heart rate and breathing a little heavy we took off again, dodging, ducking and out-sprinting the zombies. We also passed a group of 12:00 runners and left them to their fate of getting flags pulled. We didn't feel bad, this is the zombie apocalypse!


After this group it was a sludge through trails running around the course and dirtbike jumps until we reached the final obstacle and the longest zombie field of the course. The final obstacle had a line waiting for it, so we were able to catch our breath for a short moment. From where we were standing it was a group of tires that had been chained together to form a ladder for us to climb up. Once atop the platform there was a 5 foot deep pool of COLD water. Some of the girls around me looked a little nervous about jumping in, so I helped them out by jumping high up and making a very large cannonball to splash everyone around. On a scale of 1 to completely shrunk I was a completely shrunk. Good thing I didn't ease into it!

We found Leia.
After I waded through that and climbed out I rejoined the group ahead of me. William followed behind me shortly thereafter. The group in front was waiting for more people in hopes to escape unscathed from the zombies by leaving their slower comrades to get their flags taken. Oh, the backstabbing!! At least William and I were upfront about it, they acted as a team up until that point. William and I took off, he went wide left while I went wide right. I found a longer area that was less infested with zombies and as I entered the home stretch to crawl below the barbed wire finish line a zombie lunged towards me and I caught a hand to the groin, which saved my flag because he, his fellow zombies and the spectators all let out an audible "oooooh..." in unison. I slowly made my way to the finish and crawled under to collect my SURVIVOR medal. William crawled under to be shamed by his INFECTED status.

We were the first two from the 12:30 wave to cross the finish line and considering I was a survivor, I would call that a major success. Take that World War Z!

William and I. He's ashamed having become infected.

Race thoughts:

Wow, what an awesome race. Having done the Warrior Dash this summer I was a little wary to what obstacles the race would hold and what caliber to expect of those who were zombies. I was thoroughly impressed with the land in which the event was held. A motocross park makes for a very good obstacle course, take note, Warrior Dash. On to the pros and cons

Best dressed zombie couple ever.

Cost - 2/10
course -  9/10
facilities - 5/10
goodies/swag bag - 7/10

- Free for me, and $20 off for my friends. Definitely made it worth my while
- Course, obstacles, zombies were incredible, well planned and well executed
- Great involvement with the racers before the wave started by the MC

- Very expensive for a 5k. It would've cost about $100 for just the race fee
- Parking $10, bag check $5. If your race is expensive, don't tack on extra fees, you seem greedy
-shower/change tent situation was not up to par for a muddy and cold event

Bottom line:
If you're looking for a race to do with your friends or if you're looking for a race for yourself DO THIS RACE. A very fun, very well run event and definitely worth it.

Thanks, RFYL, Nicole and a huge thanks to Marnie for dealing with a tyrant infant that was having a bad day.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Michigan Titanium 70.3

This year, my 'A' race was the Michigan Titanium 70.3 I've decided to stay at the 70.3k as my furthest distance because I can do training here and there if life gets hectic or if the Army gets in the way and I can still feel good about the race. Considering I'm not in AG podium shape just yet and am 'finisher' and not a competitor, I'll just compete with myself. I have the experience of doing a 70.3 already, so I know a little of what to expect in order to better my time. I'll also do a post in the future to review the season and the improvements that I've made.

Michigan Titanium:

I was initially drawn to this race because it was another option aside from the expensive WTC. Plus, it was perfectly timed for when I wanted a race. This was the race that I talked about finding for Jon and I in this post. The plan was to spend the summer getting those longer bikes and runs in on weekends, sprinkled with hard intervals on the trainer and medium runs with speedwork during the week. This didn't go according to plan because I was sent to Fort Sill, OK for 7 weeks during the height of the summer, where it was 103 degrees pretty much every day. I did do some racing, and those reports are also found in my previous posts. That racing definitely helped me on the bike leg for MITI 70.3. I had spent the majority of my training time on my bike and it showed when it came to the race. Without further ado, the report:

Typical swim. It started in the water and followed a NASCAR-like 'Left, left, left' fashion and then returned to the beach where we had entered. Again, I didn't panic when I swim in open water, it's one of my strengths. I may not be fast, but I don't freak. I did catch a heel to my right eye at about half-way through the swim and that caused a small headache to spark. Came out of the water and got up and onto the bike. As I was getting into transition I took one packet of Frog Performance Frogfuel.

Time: 44:09 - 2:17/100m 11/15 AG
Strava link:
T1: 2:45


Here's where I knew I would be the strongest in the three events. Right from the get-go I started picking people off. I was a little surprised at the amound of rolling hills the course had, but they weren't too terrible. With exception to 2 or 3 of the hills, which ended up having a grade above 10%. Good thing I was climbing hills on EVERY ride this summer. For the first 10-15 miles I did get to play leapfrog with a guy on a steel-frame who would burn matches working to beat me up any hills. He was pretty un-aero as he had a Camelback and stock wheels with lots of spokes. I would inevitably pass him on the downhills since I had aerobars and a deep front wheel with a Zipp disc rear wheel. I will admit, it gave for a fun target and we passed smirks every time we passed each other. I enjoyed the tailwind for the front half of the course, but as we circled around on the back half I could definitely feel it start to affect my progress. It was especially bad when the wind would pick up slightly while going up a hill. Then there was an 800 meter section where the road had been torn up, so they laid a roll of tar-paper so we wouldn't flat on any sharp rocks. Unfortunately the 800 meter section started at the bottom of a hill, so we lost momentum by having to slow down to 10 mph AND we had to work harder to get up hill with the soft ground stealing energy. Once past that it was fairly uneventful and I was just ready to be on my feet and finishing this thing. Keeping me fueled was Hammer Nutrition's orange cream Perpetuem.

Heading out onto the bike course.

Time: 2:49:31 - 19.8 mph 3/15 AG
Strava link:
T2: 3:43

Genevieve waiting for me to finish.
Run: Coming from this summer I knew that I wasn't going to be as fast as I was hoping. Most of my runs were around 3-4 miles and were fast. I started off at a decent pace, I think if this had been a 5k run it would've been a pretty fast run. I started running on E at about mile 3 and started walk-running. Started out as run 5 minutes and walk 1-2 minutes. Then it moved to walk 1 minute, run until the next mile mark, walk 1 minute, run to the next mile mark etc. until that stopped happening. Eventually I got synced up with a guy who was cramping up a bit, so he and I walked and ran together. I say ran, but it was more of a slow jog. Generally when I'm not trained enough for a running race I'll make a habit of walking through aid stations and I found more things that worked well to replace salt and calories. Pickles are awesome. Cookies are incredible. Basically all food was awesome. I pushed through my sore and tired legs for the last mile or so to get a PR. Not the result I wanted, but a PR nonetheless.

Time: 2:33:04 - 11:42 min/mi 12/15 AG
Overall: 6:13:15 - 9/15 AG 116/300 OA

About 50m from the finish line.
Almost there!!

-Definitely happy with the bike avg
-Swim was only a few seconds off per 100m compared to Bigfoot Oly
-Nutrition was good and didn't cause cramping

Needs improvement:
-SWIM. I've said it all this summer, didn't get enough swimming in.
-RUN. Needed more long runs with better intervals.
-Keep building the power on the bike.

Overall I am fairly pleased with the race. The course was great, although I'm glad I only did one loop of each rather than doing the 140.6. I am grateful to all the volunteers and law enforcement that helped to make it a safe course. I would suggest to them, treat spectators with more respect, though. My wife reported to me that one marshal was being very rude and yelling at spectators.

Thanks, MI Titanium!! I wish I could come play again next year, but I'll be in California!!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Two race reports and just a generally awesome weekend

So, this is way overdue... But, I'm finally sitting down to do it since I owe a big thanks to Brad Williams (His blog here) and had a generally awesome weekend.

A little backstory: This summer I had to spend 7 weeks down in Fort Sill, OK for a leadership school required of all Staff Sergeants. Earlier in the year I had begun a conversation with Brad Williams to pick his brain a bit about cycling and triathlon. I had been reading his blog and was very impressed. So, as I talked to him I noticed that he was in Fort Worth, TX. I mentioned that I was going to be just a few hours north of him for the summer and he said if I ever got the chance to come down and I could do a little training with him. Well, that first weekend I was in OK I happened to have a 4-day weekend for the Fourth of July. While driving down Brad shot me the info on two races that would be happening that weekend. The Firecracker 100k cycling race and the Mayor's Triathlon.

So, I drove down to Fort Worth on Friday and got there just in time to go on a bike ride with Brad. The workout today was a 3x10 minute big chainring/smallest cog combo with 5 minute breaks. One thing that I learned while down in Oklahoma and Texas is that the "plains" are actually just lots and lots of hills. Over the 36 miles there was about 1500 ft of elevation gained. Now, this doesn't seem like a lot of elevation gained over 36 miles, but keep in mind that I'm coming from Chicagoland, IL and big hills here are around 30 feet and stretched over a half mile or more. After we finished the bike ride we cooled for a few minutes, changed into running attire and did a short 3.5 mile run, 15 minutes out 15 minutes back. It was extremely hot and I felt like my face was going to melt off. Then we had Chipotle and all was good in the world.

Race: Firecracker 100k

This is my fist bike "race" that I've ever done. Brad sent me the link to the race because they were offering free entry to active duty military and it fit well with his training plan. Since I was going to be there for the weekend anyway, I decided I would join in. Most of the riders doing the 100k were Cat 1/2 riders and were absolute monsters. Brad is a Cat 2 rider and pretty much from the get-go was attacking to take control of the race. My whole game plan was to hang in with the peleton for as long as I could until either I couldn't handle it anymore or we finished. I was not in it to win it.

Riding with these guys was a real eye-opening experience. I knew that there were guys who could kill it on the bike, but these guys were powerhouses. Also, drafting is an excellent thing if you're not at the top level or if you're far below the level of those who you're riding with. I spent a large majority of my time riding in the peleton. I had no idea if they were riding paceline or if there were a few guys that were trying to push it and taking all the wind. Our riding was well above 22 mph average, even going up the hills in the ride. I remember looking down at my Garmin Edge 500 and thinking "holy cow, I can't believe how quickly we're climbing this hill!"

Nutritionally my plan was to take a Hammer Nutrition gel about every 45 minutes to an hour. I didn't really have breakfast beforehand and I think that had something with my bonk around mile 45. Luckily right at the top of the last major hill was an aid station that had pickle juice, water and bananas. I stopped and had some of each and let my hr get a little adjusted before continuing on. I rode the last 10 or so miles slowly with an older couple and just chatted it up. I figured that I had busted myself and I wasn't going to catch any of the riders, so I'm just going to relax a bit. Overall it was a very nice ride and I was glad that I took the challenge and stuck with it!

Strava link:

Sunday was the Fort Worth Mayer's Triathlon:

I was looking forward to this race. I had been getting faster on my bike and my running had recently started to get back down to the speeds that I wanted them to be at. Coming off the 100k, I wasn't sure how my legs were going to handle the workload, but they ended up handling everything perfectly. I only planned on pushing as hard as I could and to get off the bike and really push the run hard. While we were at packet pickup I had the idea to ask if they had anyone singing the National Anthem, they didn't, so I also had the opportunity to sing it for this race. I'm really enjoying doing this for races!

The swim for the Mayor's Triathlon was held in the YMCA pool. It was a 300yd swim that snaked up and down the lanes until you reached the end, which had a ramp to help you run up and out of the water. It was pretty cool the way they started the race. Betsy Price, the Mayor of Fort Worth, started off the race and was followed by the local school triathlon club. How cool to see a bunch of middle schooler's getting out there early on a Sunday to do something that a lot of their peers would think is crazy! It was really fun seeing the looks on their face as it was almost their turn to enter the pool to start their swim. Some of them really had a knack for swimming and others were just dealing with it so they could go ride their bike. That's normally what I do! Anyways, I finished and got onto the bike where I wanted to be.

Time: 5:16 - 1:45/100Y
T1: 1:53

This is where I wanted to be. I was interested in seeing how my legs would be after the Firecracker 100k. Surprisingly my legs felt great! I shook off the sluggishness from the pool and started pounding on the pedals as hard as I could without killing my run. Coming off the ride on Saturday I was expecting some hills on the course, and it didn't fail to deliver them. For the most part they were pretty small except for the final hill heading up to the loop turn and into transition. I was able to hang out aero for most of it apart from those two hills. I can say that I am looking forward to the day when I get a bike fit and a true triathlon/time trial bike. Everything is great on my bike, but when I really put power into my legs I can feel the strain add into my lower back and it really gets sore, especially for long rides. This one wasn't too bad, but I had soreness left over from the Firecracker. The course ended up being 13.6 miles instead of the 15 miles described on the race website.

Time: 38:25 - 21.0 mph avg
Strava link:

Here's where my major mental game was for the day. I have had a habit in the past of overdoing the bike and then when it starts to hurt I start to walk. It was my main goal to push through the soreness of burned up legs and still get a good run. The course was an out and back course that had only one hill. It was a fairly decent hill that you ran down on the way out and then about 1/2 mile from the finish line you got to go up the hill. I knew running down it that it was going to be an absolute monster to run up it. That was a very true assessment. On the way out I did come across Brad, he was already on his way back and headed towards winning the race overall. I made my way and only briefly walked while going back up the hill. Then I pushed for everything I had and got across the line to a 3rd place AG finish and 15 OA.

Time: 22:57 - 7:02 min/mi pace
Strava link:

Overall time: 1:09:58

Overall thoughts:

This weekend was a new challenge. I've ridden long rides before, but they're always the type where we stop at a few points to decide what to do next or to just chill for a minute. Putting the amount of strain into my legs was a really good experience. I learned that my legs can handle that amount of work even if my unmotivation doesn't want to go out for a hard workout. I also learned what it was like to hang with the big boys of cycling on an elite amateur level. They've given me a definite goal to shoot for and a vision of the type of work I'll be needing to get there.

-New experiences on racing distances cycling
-3rd AG placing! First podium!
-My legs can handle a beating!

Needs improvement:
-Still need to figure out some race nutrition for longer distances
-Keep on building power on the bike

A huge thanks to Brad Williams for providing the opportunity for me to come down to Fort Worth for a training/race weekend. Thanks for giving me a couch and letting me pick you brain about training and racing! If you're ever in the area and need a place to crash don't hesitate to call, we've got a place for you.

Also, a huge thanks to the Firecracker 100k for providing free entry and for Mayor's Triathlon for putting on a great local race.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Frog Performance Raffle!

Hey, guys!

Frog Performance has given me the opportunity to host a second drawing in conjunction with the one we are hosting on ChiTriBloggers!!!

All you have to do is log in with Facebook and/or your email address!
You can earn multiple raffle entries each day, so get on there and get your tickets!

Enter as many times as you want and make sure to invite your friends!!

 We're looking to give out a total of 2 prize packs each consisting of four FrogFuel Protein Shots and a Frog Performance sticker.

  a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, August 5, 2013

Frog Fuel - A Review

A couple months ago Nicole Kesten approached me about a product review of FrogFuel. I had never heard of it before, but did a little research to find out more about the company and I was thoroughly impressed.

A quick bio of Frog Performance:

Started by two friends while stationed with SEAL team-1, Jeff and Alex were unimpressed by the protein and energy supplements that were currently available. They came together to create Frog Performance and to create a product that would maintain energy levels while performing at their peak level. They had five requirements when they created the products:

Product Quality: Professional Grade. FrogFuel is the same medical-grade protein used by health care professionals in various fields including wound and post surgical care. It’s a complete protein with all amino acids that has been fortified and enhanced.
Effectiveness of Product: Immediately Effective and Efficient. FrogFuel is broken down with an enzyme during production allowing it to be absorbed in its entirety rapidly by the user. Collagen protein provides support to skin, muscles, joints, hair, and even teeth.
Convenient: Minimal Size, and Ease of Consumption. FrogFuel is super-concentrated allowing for 15 grams (all bioavailable) of protein in 1oz without mixing on demand.
Suitable for Different Missions: Regular or Energized Protein. 80mg of caffeine provides energy to stay alert, focused, boost metabolism when needed but not so much to cause jitters.
Durable: Extreme Temperatures and Environments, Shelf Life. FrogFuel can be stored unrefrigerated in hot or cold temperatures unopened for 2 years. The packaging is durable and small enough to be carried with ease and without worry.

If that alone isn't enough to pump you up, then check this out:

I'll admit, I was pretty pumped up and ready to walk myself down to the US Navy Recruiting Station and demand that I become a SEAL. Then I remembered that I'm already a member of the premier fighting force, the US Army.

Videos and words are all awesome, but performance is more important than flashiness, so how did it stack up?

Frog Performance sent me a pack of their FrogFuel Energized Protein Shots. Through a snafu with being sent to a 7-week school days before the package arrived at my address in Illinois I had to wait for a friend to send it to me out here. I had a few events that I was going to use for training and a couple races that I wanted to try these out with. First was the Duncan Dehydrator 80-mile ride, a 42-mile training ride and in a more race-like brick in which I rode my bike to the Southwestern Scorcher 5k in Lawton, OK. Lately I have been on a more solid food kick, so this was a good chance to cycle to something out for a try.

Duncan Dehydrator 80-mile ride and 42-mile training ride:

This wasn't a race, but by no means was I going to slouch and relax. I went into the ride with the plan to have 1 packet every 45-50 minutes. I also had 2 bottles of water and 2 bottles with 1-scoop of Skratch orange mix to supplement electrolytes lost due to the heat. As I got to 45 minutes I could feel myself start to struggle a little with fuel, my body was definitely running a little low, which I knew was going to happen and had planned for. I sat back in the paceline and grabbed my first Energy shot. Holy cow, this thing had some kick. If you're used to the bland, dull taste of Cliffshots or Gu, then you are in for a whole new experience. This thing is not boring. It also isn't thick like a typical energy shot. As soon as I opened it up I poured it into my mouth, no need to fight with the package to get the little corners and creases to give up that much needed nutrition.
Within 5 minutes I could feel the power return to my legs and it was much easier to take the pulls when my turn came. I kept eating 1 shot every 45-50 minutes through the ride until about mile 60 when I had to stop and eat a banana due to my stomach knotting up. Being used to more solid foods I think that the lack of substance in me was throwing my stomach for a loop. The Shots were providing the energy, but I think I should have used them every 30 minutes to increase the caloric intake. At only 60 calories per 15 grams of protein it is a great way to get fuel and protein without a giant calorie penalty.

After the race and the day after:

Usually after a hard workout I will take about 50 grams of protein either with Muscle Milk or GNC's brand of post-workout protein in order to prevent my muscles from locking up and just feeling like I have no energy at all the next day. I was very pleasantly surprised to find that my legs felt fresh when I woke up the next day. I didn't need to hobble into the shower and ease myself into stretching as my hamstrings and quads uncoiled themselves. I actually put a fresh kit on and rode my bike 15 miles and felt absolutely great. 

After the Duncan Dehydrator 80-mile.

Brick race/Southwestern Scorcher 5k:

Plan for this day was to ride at a race pace the 10 miles to the race, take a FrogFuel shot after the bike and run the race at 5k race pace. I had been consistently running below 20 minutes for the 3-mile runs we do every Monday here in class. I knew that I was capable of a sub-20, but would I be able to break that 19 minute barrier?

I didn't eat much before I started riding because I wanted to see the effects of the FrogFuel during the race. This left me with a 60-calorie shot and a bottle of water for the 10-mile bike and 5k. In the past I haven't been able to push very hard when I haven't eaten much beforehand. This time I felt great. From the start of the race I was off at a very good pace, running a 5:58 first mile. I had a small hiccup and had to turn around to pick up my ID's and sunglasses that had fallen out of my back pocket. Even with this I was able to keep a 6:20/mi pace through the 5k and run a 19:47. At no point did I feel like I was running out of energy. My body felt great and performed exactly how I wanted it to. I didn't feel like I needed to eat more beforehand and I didn't need to stuff my face after crossing the finish line.

Day after:

Another day of feeling great!! The protein in FrogFuel continues to impress me. Not only do I feel great during the race, but I don't have to plow through chalky protein powder after the race and hope it's in time to get to my muscles before they start cramping up. I didn't feel the need to stretch for hours, nor did it take me 5 minutes to get up from a chair.

Finish line of the Southwester Scorcher 5k.

Final thoughts:

I really like this product. I'm even willing to overlook that it was made by a couple of guys in the Navy. It kept me fueled during my workouts and helped me to feel great afterwards by providing the protein needed by my muscles. I would definitely use this product again, but would supplement with some solid foods to keep my caloric intake up a little higher.

  • Easy to get out of packaging, don't need to fight with it to get the fluid into your mouth.
  • Great, loud taste! (could be a negative if lots of flavor causes you to squirm while in the middle of a workout)
  • Protein helps promote recovery while you are working out and helps to stave off the next day soreness.

  • $2.00 per packet, a bit on the high side of nutrition and the smallest amount you can purchase is 24, so you're looking at $48 each time.
  • If you're looking for more calories you'll need to supplement with something.

Buy or pass?
Definitely a buy.

Thanks to Frog Performance for helping fuel me to my best 5k performance and a 4th AG and 5th OA finish at the Southwestern Scorcher 5k. Great product, hope to see more from you guys in the future!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Bigfoot Triathlon Race Report

First Olympic distance triathlon!!

First off, what an awesome venue! And now to the backstory:

Last year a friend of mine joined me at the RAM Racing Turkey Trot 5k/10k. Earlier in the year he had registered for his first 5k, but due to other obligations he was unable to be at the race that day. So, I talked to him about doing this race as I would be singing the National Anthem and then running the 10k. I told him he could do either distance. He said that he had already trained for a 5k, so he would be doing the 10k. Having finished that and feeling good about the whole thing I started talking to him about triathlon. I told him that I had done a couple sprints and an Ironman 70.3. After explaining the whole thing and explaining the distances he asked if I was planning on doing a 70.3 the next fall and if I did which one would I do. I told him I was planning on one, but I didn't know yet. He told me he was game and that he would be signing up with me. I also told him I was thinking about doing this race depending on my schedule and that it might be a good idea for him to do it just so he can get his feet wet and see what a triathlon feels like. So I reserved a camp site less than half mile from the transition and we went up that saturday afternoon before the race.

Lake Geneva is awesome. It is definitely a party town in the sumer because the lake is warm, the weather wasn't bad and the road is literally 2 feet from the lake edge making it easy to get to. RAM Racing chose a very good spot when they started this triathlon. I know the race director from the previous couple years of volunteering with RAM. I found Debbie on Saturday and asked if they had anyone doing the National Anthem before the race or if they were just doing a recording. She pointed me towards the gal who was in charge of that, I remembered her from last year's Turkey Trot 10k where I'd sung the National Anthem for RAM. She said they didn't have anyone so I was able to sing the National Anthem before the race. Always one of my favorite parts of the race.

Goal: I hadn't done any heavy training for this race and I'd never done this distance before, but I was shooting for 2:30:00.

All setup and ready to go

Definitely the weakest of my three events. I'd only been in a pool twice in the six months leading up to the race and one of those times was for the sprint tri in Alaska a few weeks earlier. The water was perfect. It was clear and not too cold, just right for a little swim. One of my strengths on the swim, though, is my ability to not freak out. I positioned myself to the side of the group so I wouldn't have to worry about getting swam over or elbowed/kicked in the face. I'd had problems in the past with my goggles taking on water, but this time I didn't have that problem at all. I settled into a good pace and just cruised through the 1500m as quickly as possible without trying to burn any matches.

Time - 33:09 - 2:13/100m
T1 - 3:22 - The run from the swim exit to the transition was pretty far.

Strava link:

As it has been this year the bike has been my strength of the three events. I knew that this was going to be where I made up the time I would lose on both the swim and the run. While I hadn't prepared as much as I would have liked for the elevation gain on the course I did feel that the amount of riding and the amount of pushing it I had been doing really served me well when it came to keeping my power up. It was a really windy day and we had either headwind/crosswind combo or just plain headwind. The last portion of the course we were lucky enough to get a major tailwind coupled with a downhill portion. This made for very high speeds with less effort, which was a nice change, especially right before transitioning to the run.

Time - 1:06:01 - 22.6 mph avg 2:39/mi - 32/551 OA 5/32 AG
T2 - 2:03

Strava Link:

In the beginning I felt fairly good. Then my legs started to feel extremely heavy. I thought that this would be a run on pavement, but it was actually on trail. And the very beginning of the first loop was around a lake, so the ground was soggy and my shoes ended up taking water through the sole, which led to soggy feet. Luckily I didn't have any blisters bother me at all, not even after the run. I ended up slowing to an easy pace that would let me just get through the run. I also made a habit of walking the aid stations, which is what I do at most races that I start hurting on. I really need to start getting my mental toughness built up and just pushing through because I know I can handle it, I just let my legs get the best of me. Overall the course was very nice. The soggy lake wasn't enough to ruin it at all. Very nice wooded portions and a mix of open and very sunny portions. Right before the finish line there's a decent hill that was fun to just push through to get up and over for the final sprint across the line. Overall I wasn't too sad about the run, but I know it's where I can use a lot of work.

Time - 56:48 - 9:58/mi

Strava Link:

Total time: 2:41:21 - 131/551 OA - 17/32 AG - 114/349 Sex
Finish line... Obviously.

Good things:
-Maintained a middle of the pack swim time with little swim training
-Biked a solid bike split that was only 7 minutes off the fastest bike split
-Nutrition was well-maintained with Hammer Gels on the bike and run
-I got to sing the National Anthem!

-Work on that swim
-Work on that run
-Practice more bike/run transitions to get the legs to feel more fluid after biking
-Practice transitions

Well run race and if I were going to be in the area next year I would definitely compete at this again!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Tri the Kenai

So, a few months ago when Marnie and I decided we were going to come to Alaska for a vacation I couldn't help but to see if there were any races going on. I really didn't expect any triathlons to be happening as it is chilly, even in June, but lo and behold I was wrong!! There were two during our trip. One was the day we left and although I would have liked to do that one since two of my friends were it wasn't gonna happen. The second, which was further away, was right in the middle of the trip. To make things even better it was just about halfway home from Homer, AK, where we would be visiting my grandparents. I figured this would be a way to end a trip down the Kenai Peninsula. So I looked into Tri the Kenai sprint triathlon.

I've found that if I ask the race director if they do anything for military they usually will either not email me back or will tell me no. Which is fine, it never hurts to ask especially when I've been put on a race budget by The Boss and I'm trying to get in as many races as possible. This time I lucked out! Not only did they do a discount, but that discount was a complete waiver of entry fees! I quickly consulted The Boss and she said it wouldn't be a problem.
Marnie AKA "The Boss"
Now, I asked the boss if I could bring my speed machine up to Anchorage, but due to the unreasonable fees airlines charge to fly a bike even if it is under 50 lbs and your only piece of checked baggage I quickly received a "NO" from The Boss. All was well, when the RD emailed me he mentioned he would have a bike I could borrow as long as a 56 cm would work. It's a few cm above what I ride right now, but that would work. He also told me that I could adjust the bike as I needed to make it work. When I got there and made the adjustments I was truly grateful. It was an older bike, but it was very well maintained! Even had Ultegra and Dura-Ace on it! Wheels were as smooth as butter!

Race day:
We woke up around 7 since the race didn't start until 10 ish for me. We had about an hour and a half of driving from Homer, AK to get into Soldotna, which gave us plenty of time to get Genevieve up and into her carseat and soundly back asleep by the time we'd gone 5 miles. The Boss was hungry, so we stopped at a gas station to get food. Good chance for me to get some proper nutrition and fuel for the sprint... A Honey Bun and a soda... Cause, you know... Gotta be healthy! We stopped a few times so Marnie could get pictures of the two volcanoes on the other side of the Cook Inlet. Pretty impressive if I do say so myself!

We got there about 20 minutes before packet pickup and the transition closed, which gave me more than enough time to make adjustments and set out my shoes before heading into the pool area. When I pulled out my packet and got my swim cap out The Boss asked me if they knew I was a boy... We looked around and noticed everyone had bright pink race caps

Sweet, pink swim cap! This was a few days after when packing to come home.

I hadn't been in a pool for a little over 6 months, so I was a bit anxious about how I'd do with the swim. I knew that I wouldn't be doing any flip-turning. Once in I relaxed a bit and just went for it, after all it was only a sprint. I was pretty pleased with my ability to keep pace and ended up avg at 1:30/100m. Definitely room for improvement, but not sad about it.
Putting on my sweet race cap before I got in the pool.

Time - 7:30 - 1:30/100m - No placing as results were total time and did not have any splits
T1 - 2:08


WOW HILLS! I hadn't really anticipated the size of the hills that were on this course. It reminded me of Branson, MO 70.3 last year. Luckily this was only 10 miles and not 56. As I was right after "elite" men there weren't many people ahead of me to catch. I was able to catch a relay biker and another of the males, but there was no way I was catching any of the "elite" females as they were 10 minutes ahead of the "elite" males. For being so hilly I was pretty pleased with my time. Generally I focus on having good cadence, especially for grinding up hills, but without any indicators other than what I felt I did this all on PE.

Time - 29:47 - 2:58/mi - No placing as results were total time and did not have any splits
T2 - 1:11


Also super hilly. I was very happy with this course! Instead of using paved roads like most sprint tri's they had access to the cross country ski trails behind the high school. It was comprised of one short loop and then a long loop. The breakup was late this year so the middle of the trail and some of the lower points in the trail were a bit muddy. It just added to the fun. My legs felt pretty good, they were a bit shaky the first uphill, but as soon as I got up the hill they got their power back and I was able to set into a decent pace. Not as fast as I would like, but the speed will be back by the end of summer.
Feeling great after the first short loop.

Time - 25:05 - 8:04/mi - No placing as results were total time and did not have any splits

Total time - 1:05:36 - 18/115 Overall -  2/3 Age Group (HAHAHA)

-First triathlon of the season
-PE on bike was good, especially with all the hills I was able to maintain above 20 mph
-Great race!

Needs improvement:
-I need to get in the pool more often!
-Get out there and put more speed into my runs!
-Cut out the excess weight

Marnie told me that this chick was more badass than I was... I agree. Way to go!!
She also sent me this with the caption "My dad is so awesome!!!"

A huge thanks to Tony Oliver in Soldotna, AK. He hooked me up with free entry to the race and then went above and beyond when he lent me his bike to race on. I hope that I'll be up there racing again sometime in the next few years!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Leon's Triathlon Relay RR

So, a few weeks back I was talking to one of my friends, who was having a minor freakout about having signed up for an Olympic distance triathlon as her first race. She has a problem with this because she starts every year with a sprint distance, then Oly, then half-IM... I dread the year for her when she decides to do a full-IM haha!

Anyways, she told me she was thinking of splitting it to a relay and was wondering if I wanted to do the bike. Having just built my custom race bike and having been focusing on my bike speed it really was a no-brainer for me. Of course I would do the bike leg.

Before the race I started getting interested in Team Red White & Blue. A friend who is prior-service Army had talked to me about them and I decided I would check them out. If you haven't already, you really should check them out. They focus on helping veterans overcome they're injuries by bringing them to athletics, which is such a powerful tool in curing depression, PTSD and many, many things that plague our veterans today. As a part of Team RWB I was invited to a dinner with the team members who were going to be racing the next day. It was pretty great to meet everyone and to hear a little about what their goals and experiences were. I had given Marnie the day off of mom duties, so Genevieve was with me and immediately made friends by tasting their fingers.
Caroline Gaynor of Team RWB and Genevieve
This morning I got up around 4:50 because my daughter wanted to be fed and then continued to get ready. I haven't really paid attention to my nutrition in the past with races, so I made a point of going for micronutrients that would give me an overload of healthiness. I've started juicing every morning and I feel great. My buddy Jeff met me at 5:30 so we could make the hour drive into Hammond, IN again for the race. We were expecting nice(not) weather. It was supposed to be cloudy with a 20% chance of rain. When we got to the transition at 6:30 we actually had sunny skies... 30 minutes later it was completely cloud-covered. And just as the opening ceremonies started a frigid wind came in and knocked 10 degrees out of the air. It was FREEZING. And I had to wait almost 2 hours before I would get my chance to warm up. Then it started to drizzle and mist making things way colder and more miserable. Once on the bike I was able to hammer out pretty good times and keep my hr around 170 to stay warm. I knew I didn't have to run afterwards, so I wasn't worried about fresh legs for the run.
At the halfway point before I overtook these two.

I ended up completing the bike which was on my Garmin as 25.3 miles in 1:08:20 maintaining an avg speed of 22.2 mph. Pretty happy with everything overall... I especially loved all the people on super aero expensive TT bikes with aero helmets and how I blew past them.