Category Archives: Event Recap

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Race Recap: Ironman 70.3 Superfrog

The Ironman Superfrog 70.3 on Sunday September 25th was my first long course triathlon in over 10 years. This race was started by Navy Seals in 1979 as a way to prepare them for the Ironman World Championship in Kona. It is the original and longest running 70.3 triathlon and recently became an Ironman branded race. This year the race venue was at Imperial Beach.

My focus over the last few months has been improving my health and all my training was done at or below my Maximum Aerobic Function heart rate (180 minus my age). Going into the race I had no agenda other than to have fun and get the feel for long course again.

The Week Leading Up to the Race:

Since it takes somewhere in the realm of 10-14 days for a workout to develop into fitness, I reduced my workout volume to prioritize recovery and sleep two weeks before the race. During this time period I also paid extra attention to my diet, avoided alcohol and dramatically reduced caffeine intake to minimize all unnecessary stress on my body. I usually don’t sleep well the night before a race so I tried to get the best and most amount of sleep two nights before. The most important meal before a race is breakfast/lunch the day before…not dinner as most people think. It takes time for food to be converted into energy and a giant dinner is more likely to cause digestive distress than provide fuel. Therefore, my breakfast and lunch on Saturday included extra carbs from good sources like sweet potatoes and butternut squash. I also stayed well hydrated on Saturday because race day was going to be hot.

I brought my bike in for a tune-up, read the Athlete Guide closely, and cleaned/checked all my gear to avoid surprises and fire drills (i.e., extra stress) before the race. I made sure to pack my gear and race nutrition well in advance to minimize race morning tasks.

Race Morning

I was up and wide awake at 4am. The transition area opened at 5am and the venue was about a 25 minute drive from our house. Bike check-in was on Saturday but I still wanted to get there early to unhurriedly check my bike, pump up my bike tires, and do a little warm-up before the 7am start. I had a quick breakfast that consisted of a handful of macadamia nuts, a Primal Kitchen dark chocolate almond collagen bar, and some butternut squash with coconut oil (all of which I have found to be easily digestible for me). I also made a giant 20oz mug of coffee to sip on before the race. As I noted in a previous post, taking 3-6mg of caffeine per kg of body weight about an hour before an event has been shown to provide a performance benefits.

I arrived at the venue at 5:15am and it was already a flurry of activity. I had forgotten how much energy is in the air before an event like this! I set up my transition area, chatted with some athletes, and did a short jog to get the blood flowing before putting on my wetsuit. I drank my first packet of VESPA as I headed down to the beach for the swim start…

Swim

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Instagram Photo Credit: tenchiso

This was a picture I had seen from last year’s swim on Instagram. Oddly…it made me more excited. I’m not afraid of the ocean but I also respect it. Swimming in big surf isn’t something to take lightly.

Upon scoping out the swim start…the surf was big…bigger than anything I’ve swam in before. Even still, the novelty of swimming in the ocean hasn’t worn off for this native midwesterner so I was still excited for the challenge. The swim course was two laps with a short beach run between laps. This meant we had to swim through the surf twice.

The swim start was a time-trial format vs. a mass start. We were corralled by swim time (similar to the start of a marathon). One-by-one athletes would run across the timing mat to start their day. As I ran down to the water to start my swim my strategy was to “dolphin” swim (push off the ground and dive forward) to the point that I couldn’t touch anymore. This is usually the fastest way to get to deep water to start swimming. However…I wasn’t making much progress against the surf but I was expending a lot of energy. I quickly realized why most people were walking…the current was strong!

My new strategy became diving under the waves, standing up and trying and not to lose ground, swimming with the current as the water went out, and repeating as many times as necessary. There became a point where I couldn’t touch but still wasn’t past the break…and this is where it got a little scary. I was starting to get tired from swimming under a wave and fighting the current only to have another 6’ wave about to break on top of me. It was crazy!

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Instagram Photo Credit: serge4ibmayor

Once I finally made it through the surf break I was able to relax and find my swim rhythm. At the first buoy the slight south-to-north current became a benefit. As I swam back into shore I was able to catch a wave for a nice little ride back to the beach. The current pushed me farther north than I wanted so my beach run was a little longer than it should have been. Then it was back in the water for loop 2…

Getting through the surf the first time was hard…and doing it again with a little fatigue made it even harder. I used the same strategy but wasn’t as effective at holding my ground against the current after each wave. As a giant wave broke right on top of me at the point where I couldn’t touch but still was inside the break, I was exhausted and started thinking I wasn’t going to have the energy to fight through more waves like that. Thankfully…I had just gotten past the break after that wave and was able to uneventfully finish the last loop of the swim. When I got back to shore I was pleasantly surprised with my swim time given the conditions.

Note: I found out later that the lifeguards made numerous rescues and aver 25% of the field had either DNF or DNS likely due to the swim. There are always some DNF and DNS in an Ironman but that percentage was significant.

Bike

I was relieved to be in T1 and I took some extra time to get myself put together for the bike. The1_m-100738758-digital_highres-1591_029925-4153498 course was four loops on the Silver Strand highway, which is essentially flat. There was a slight headwind going out which became a tailwind coming back. I was conservative on the bike and took extra care not to go too hard in the beginning because I had burned a few matches to make it through the swim.

I used other competitors as pace setters being careful to avoid drafting penalties. Nearing the end of the 2nd loop I could start to feel the heat of the day (it was expected to get into the 90s). My nutrition plan was working well and I rode through the aid station that was at the end of each bike loop. The aid station was on a slight downhill so I could pick up the pace and ride past everyone slowing down to grab food and water bottles. I took in all my nutrition on the bike:

  • 2nd  loop I ate a Phive Bar and took down a water bottle
  • 3rd loop I drank my chia seed slurry, honey and coconut water slurry
  • 4th loop I ate a 2nd Phive bar and took down my last water bottle

One competitor alerted me as he rode past that I had salt stains on my bike shorts so I should make sure to take in extra sodium. I love the camaraderie of triathlon! Since I knew it was going to be hot and I’m a salty sweater, I added a few pinches of Himalayan sea salt to all my water bottles.

Making the turn to go back out on the last loop was somewhat disheartening. My legs were starting to feel tired and the faster bikers were riding into T2 while I had to make another U-turn to go back out one more time.

Run

In T2 I made a decision to forgo socks on the run. I’m glad I did because the start of the run course went immediately to the beach….in soft sand (in honor of the Navy Seals and a race tradition). The run course was four loops that went along the Imperial Beach board walk and then back on the beach in the sand. Most of the beach running was in compact sand by the water’s edge but each loop had two soft sand sections for a total of about a half mile of soft sand on each loop.

soft-sand

Instagram Photo Credit: jwinters_dpt

To be frank…running in loose sand sucks…it saps your energy and is demanding on the ankles and calves. I tried walking in the soft sand to conserve energy but it wasn’t any easier and I was more apt to kick sand into my shoe. My soft sand strategy became maintaining my run pace through the sand and then walking a little to get my heart rate to drop back down.

Ironman branded races have well supported run courses with aid stations approximately every mile. Because of the heat, my aid station strategy was walking through each, immediately grabbing two cups of cold water, drinking one and dumping the other on my head. Occasionally I would also grab some Gatorade for some calories and electrolytes. I felt borderline too full from what I took in on the bike during the early part of the run. Fortunately, that quickly passed without any sort of gut-ache or side-stitch.

run-picAs I was starting my third loop and finishing up a soft sand section I got the perfect surprise and a much needed boost: “GO HUSBAND!!!” I didn’t think she was going to be able to make it to the race so I was super surprised and so happy to see her! I just wish it wasn’t when I was walking after a soft sand section…

Instead of counting down the miles. I was counting down the soft sand sections. On the last loop I was hot, my feet were starting to hurt, and the sand in my shoes felt like sandpaper socks so I was getting antsy to finish. Halfway through my last loop I did a time check and realized that I could potentially set a 70.3 PR! I was not expecting that at all. At that point I turned me mind off and just ran…no more walking through aid stations.

The last quarter mile through the finish chute lined with spectators felt amazing and seeing my wife waiting for me at the end was my favorite part of the whole day!

finish-pic

For an added bonus…I set a new 70.3 PR by 1m:34s! Health before fitness WORKS!!!

EVENTTIME
TOTAL TIME5:41:04
Swim0:36:20
T10:04:12
Bike2:52:57
T20:01:51
Run2:05:44

30-34 Division Place: 40 / 120

Overall Place: 218 / 878

 

Wife Out of Town

Event Recaps: Pier-to-Cove Swim and San Diego International Triathlon

“When the wife is away the husband will play!” That was the theme two weekends ago when my wife was out of town and I did a back-to-back events -> The La Jolla Swim Club Pier-to-Cove swim (1.5 mile ocean swim) on Saturday followed by the San Diego International Triathlon (1k swim, 30k bike, 10k run) by Koz Events on Sunday.

Pier to Cove Swim (1.5 miles)

I signed up for this event on a whim after a co-worker told me about it the week before because it was such a great opportunity to get in some ocean swimming practice/training. Since I have never actually done a legit ocean swim before, I was a tad bit nervous about this event, especially since I just started swim training two weeks prior. As the name implies, the swim course was from the Scripps Pier to La Jolla Cove (~1.5 miles…depending on how straight you swim).

Based on my wetsuit experience in my last race, I decided to go with my sleeveless wetsuit for unimpeded arm mobility. I had my standard fatty coffee in the morning before heading to the event early to ensure I had plenty of time to find parking and check in. Besides reducing pre-race stress, I like getting to events early because it gives me a chance to meet and chat with some of the other racers. I got to talking with some people from Arizona that have done a bunch of different open water endurance swim events. Apparently there is a swim under the Golden Gate Bridge which I’m definitely adding to my bucket list.

The event started on the beach just north of the pier. Since the surf was slightly above average and the cove is just a small sandy beach surrounded by rocks, the event was precluded by a pretty serious (making it almost funny) safety talk by the lifeguards. We had had to swim out past the surf, around the pier, and then south to the cove. I’m so glad I got a pair of prescription goggles because sighting would have been a big challenge otherwise.

At this point, my Midwest roots were getting excited about the novelty of swimming in the ocean. It was a mass start with all 350+ swimmers and was WAY more low-key than a triathlon start. Instead of a full contact battle, we all sauntered out into the waves at the starting siren giving each other plenty of room to swim. Even though I have lived in San Diego for a year now I haven’t been in the ocean much and diving under waves brought my back to playing in the surf when I was a kid. Once I got out past the break I think it was the farthest I’ve ever swam out in the ocean before. I was in new territory!

I gotta say…open water swimming in the ocean is VERY different than the calm lakes of Minnesota. If I couldn’t have seen my progress along the pier I could have sworn I was going backwards at times. Swimming over waves was definitely a unique feeling. It was like swimming up and down hills. Eventually I made it around the pier and started heading south to the cove parallel to the shore. Another thing about ocean swimming is that it was hard to find a rhythm when I was constantly getting pushed around by the water, especially since it was choppy. This made sighting and swimming a straight line a lot more difficult. It got to the point that I never trusted my line so I was constantly trying to look up to sight (not efficient at all) and sometimes when I looked up I was just staring directly into a wave. This was definitely turning out to be a great learning experience.

When I finally made it just outside the surf break by the cove, there was a host of lifeguards given direction so no one ended up getting smashed into the rocks by the waves. Every time I went into a vertical position to listen to the lifeguards my calves and hips starting cramping which was not comfortable. So instead of trying to catch a wave and body surf into shore I was just in survival mode trying not to get thrashed by waves. When I finally did make it to shore it took me a minute to realize that I had to run about 10 more yards to cross the timing mat (hence he goofy grin on my face).

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When I was out of the water and started peeling off my wetsuit I realized how unfortunate it was that I forgot to throw a stick of bodyglide in my gear bag because I had pretty bad case of “rub rash” all around my shoulders (the major downfall of a sleeveless wetsuit).

My total time was was 53:40 which put me in the middle of the pack in all categories (41/84 for the overall wetsuit division; 27/49 of all males; 3/5 in the 30-34 age group)

I grabbed some of the post-race brunch buffet and made the barefoot walk/jog back to my car at the start. Time start prepping and resting for the next day’s triathlon…

San Diego International Triathlon (1k swim, 30k bike, 10k run)

SDIT Logo

Other than my shoulders feeling a bit sore, I felt pretty good in the morning. Per usual…I had my fatty coffee and got to the event early to make sure I got a decent spot in the transition area. I decided to give my full sleeve wetsuit another shot because I couldn’t handle more irritation on the “rub rash” I got from the previous day’s swim. As I got to chatting with another taller guy in the transition area about wetsuits he told me his strategy….basically I had to pull it up way more than I thought and then lean over at the waist to reveal how much more room I had to pull it up. Holy crap! That made all the difference in the world!

Transition Area

I was much more relaxed this go around waiting for the swim start. When we finally got underway and considering my goggles didn’t leak and I wasn’t fighting against my wetsuit sleeves, my swim was already 100% better than my last race. The swim was in Harbor Island’s West Basin, which was basically like swimming in a lake compared to yesterday’s ocean swim. I had some trouble sighting on the 2nd half of the swim because we were looking directly into the morning sun. When I made it to the transition area I figured I was probably in mid-pack (per usual). Going into the race I thought my swim time would be around 20 minutes so I was pleased when I checked my split as I was heading out of transition and I was at 17ish minutes.

I tend to get over excited at the start of the bike and had to remind myself to dial it back when I caught myself overdoing it. The bike course was an out an back that climbed up to the Cabrillo National Monument with two loops at the top before descending back down to the transition area. The two loops had rolling hills which is my favorite terrain. Since my age group was wave 3 it was pretty much wide open road until we started the 2nd loop. Just as I was started to get annoyed from people not obeying the passing lane rules (if you are going to pass…PASS…don’t just ride next to someone and block them from entering the passing lane), I made the turn to head back to the transition area and had open road again. The ride (descent) back was all downhill and was a ton of fun! Nothing like coasting at 38 mph on a wide open straight road! I was thinking the bike was going to take me an hour but when I checked my split as I was heading onto the run course it was around 55 minutes. #Boom

I had a buddy that happened to be in town visiting family over the weekend and their hotel was right along the run course. My swim and bike times had created a bit of a predicament because I was now 10+ minutes ahead of the time I told him that I would probably be running by their hotel. I kept on the lookout but I was sure I missed him when I got to mile three so I just went into focus mode. He did manage to see me though! Thanks for the pic Sean and coming out to spectate!

Sean Pic

The finish line was in Seaport Village so the last two miles were along Harbor drive and went past the USS Midway museum. Since this is such a well-traveled area it was not a closed course at this point. It was kinda weird because here I was in the pain zone near the end of a race running down the sidewalk, mostly by myself, amongst leisurely tourists and families out on a morning stroll. I’m sure I was quite the spectacle for unknowing onlookers.

When I crossed the finish line I still felt pretty good and I definitely didn’t leave everything out on the course. Since I’ve primarily been focusing on long course racing and building an aerobic base, I definitely don’t have that extra gear and top end speed needed for these shorter races. I gotta say…there are some freaking fast people in SoCal!

EventTime
Total Time2:03:03
Swim0:17:50
Bike0:55:15
Run0:49:57

30-34 Division Place: 17/32

It was funny – before the race I was asked what my best event was by a first time triathlete. I told him that I’m pretty average across the board. After looking at my results that was pretty accurate. Swim: 20/32, Bike: 16/32, Run: 18/32.

I didn’t spend much timing hanging around the finish area because my wife was flying back into town just after noon and I still had to get my gear (and myself) cleaned up before she got home so we could spend the rest of the day hanging out.

Overall…a pretty epic weekend!

Marathon Finishing Photo

Race Recap: San Diego Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon

As I noted in my last post about my marathon training, gear, and race nutrition, Sunday, June 5th was the San Diego Rock ‘n’ Roll marathon and the first marathon I’ve ran since 2005. This is my full recap of the day and some key learnings that I’ll be applying to my next race:

Race Morning:

I was up and wide awake at 4am! My pre-race breakfast was a glass of water with a heaping teaspoon of baking soda followed by a fatty coffee with grass-fed butter and coconut oil. I did my final gear check and packed my bag while I drank my coffee and did about 10-15 minutes of foam rolling on my calves and hamstrings because they were feeling a little tight. The start and finish lines were only 2-3 miles from our house so I biked to a spot near the starting area for a nice little warm-up and ate a coconut cream pie Larabar as I walked to starting line at Balboa Park. I made sure to get there early because I wanted to have ample time to get through gear-check and allow for one final porta-potty stop before the start. Good thing I learned my lesson from my last race…the porta-potty lines were crazy town! After about a 30 min wait, I jogged up to my starting corral. I followed some good advice from my buddy Matt and made a last-minute switch to a starting corral that was a tad bit faster than my goaled finish time so I wouldn’t get too bogged down by the crowds of runners at the start. It was a wave start format so each corral of 100-ish runners would start every 1-2 minutes to help prevent congestion of all ~30,000 runners starting at the same time.

First Half of Race:

The weather was turning out to be a perfect June gloom so it wasn’t hot and sunny like the forecast. The temperature was going to be in the mid-60s with some humidity. I took down a packet of Vespa right before I lined up in my starting corral. The starting line had lots of energy and was definitely living up to the Rock ‘n’ Roll theme! I was extra conscious about pacing in the beginning with a plan to start out at a pace that felt a little slow. I wanted to burn all my matches in the last 10 miles vs. being one of those runners that ends up walking in the end because they started too fast. I found a comfortable pace that was about 30-45 seconds faster than my MAF pace making sure I could easily breathe through my nose. The first 13.1 was pretty uneventful other than a quick bathroom stop at the halfway point. The only nutrition I took in was water and some Vespa (I planned to take one packet of Vespa every hour).

Back Half of Race:

This is where I started using my nutrition. I had a handheld with a coconut water chia seed slurry (see my last post for details) that I started sipping on just past the halfway point. I was feeling confident through mile 15 because my pace was steady and lots of people were walking by this time (probably because they started way too fast). At this point I was projecting my finish time to be around 3:50. Mile 18ish is when my legs started to feel it. Aerobically I was still feeling good but pace was slowing, the terrain was slightly uphill, and I was losing my form. Then I hit mile 21…which was basically when the course went up a mountain (maybe a slight exaggeration…but just slight…) for the next 1.5 miles…and this nearly crushed me. I knew I had a little cushion to break 4 hours (the top end of my goal) but it was getting dicey. I realized I couldn’t run up this mountain without completely blowing up so I felt forced to walk/jog as fast as possible.

Marathon Coure Profile

Marathon Course Profile

When I finally got to the top I knew I had to red-line it if I wanted to break 4 hours. There is a point in every marathon when it becomes all mental and this was that point for me. This is where having a reason and purpose for doing hard things is critical because you are going to need that when everything starts to hurt. It was weird…I don’t remember much between 23-25 other than trying to rest my eyes and take a nap while running. When I finally got downtown San Diego with about 1 to 1.5 miles left I knew it was going to be close. I was basically panic running at this point hoping the finish was around every turn. When I finally saw it I used everything left in the tank and crossed at 3:59:19…too close for comfort! I think the last 2-3 miles were the fastest of the entire day (going downhill definitely helped)!

Post Race:

After finishing it took every bit of energy to not sit down in the middle of the finish chute. I leaned on a barrier for a bit trying not to pass out. When I walked through the finish area I destroyed all the food they were handing out (chocolate milk, protein bars, chips, whatevs!). Walking around the finish area and biking home really helped my legs feel better. I spent the rest of the day moving around and helping my wife with errands/chores. Not only does staying active help with recovery but staying productive after an event (or long workout session) is key to keeping the family happy and getting approval to do more events in the future! I finally collapsed into bed exhausted at 8pm.

Key Learnings:

  1. I need to improve leg strength to help maintain form in the late stages of the race  strength training, longer tempo runs, and intervals/hill work.
  2. Pay more attention to course profile when training. I would have added some more hill work late in my long runs to prep for that last mountain climb.
  3. I still need to dial in my race nutrition because it felt a little too light (along with continuing to improve my aerobic system/fat burning). I’m also a really salty sweater apparently:

Salt

Splits:

My time goal going into the race was 3:45 to 3:59. I’ve never broken a four-hour marathon before!

PointTimePace
5k0:27:068:44
10K0:54:508:56
13.11:54:288:40
20M2:58:369:18
Finish3:59:199:48
Avg Pace9:09

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Race Recap: Koz Spring Sprint

May 1st was the Koz Spring Sprint triathlon, my first race of the 2016 season and my first triathlon in a couple of years. It reminded me why and how much I love this sport! It was a sprint distance (1/4 mile swim, 10 mile bike, and 3 mile run) at San Diego’s Mission Bay so a perfect way to ease back into racing…and also a good thing because my swim and bike training has been non-existent with my upcoming marathon. Since it was a sprint distance, I was approaching it more like an intensity workout session for the week and an opportunity to experiment with a new wetsuit. Therefore, I mostly maintained my weekly training schedule but took two rest days prior to race day.

Race Morning:

The transition area opened at 5:40am and closed at 6:45am so I planned to leave our house a little before 6:00am because the race site was only 20 minutes away. I was up at 5:15am, made myself a fatty coffee with butter and coconut oil, grabbed my pre-packed gear bag, loaded my bike in the car, and was on the road jamming out to my pre-race playlist on schedule to be at the race site just after 6…

…and then I hit the race traffic. I expected we could use the parking lot at the race site but that turned out to be closed for the event so everyone was getting detoured to park on a side road. So what I thought was going to be a short walk to the transition area with ample time to check-in and setup turned out to be a short bike ride and a stressful and hurried check-in and setup before the transition area closed. Not how I wanted my pre-race to go. Lessons learned:

  1. Pay close attention to race morning logistics
  2. Always get to the event early
  3. Bring a sharpie to do my own body marking

Race Start:

I got out of the transition area with about 5 minutes to spare and headed to the swim start. I quickly realized I hadn’t considered that my vision has gotten a bit worse since my last race and I had to leave my glasses in transition. I was able to manage but…duly noted…time to look into getting a pair of prescription goggles.

As I was floating in the water waiting for my wave to start all the chaos from the morning washed away and I was getting stoked. It was Go Time!

Swim:

I love swimming but I will always dread triathlon swim starts. When everyone goes from vertically treading water to horizontal it becomes chaos and full-contact swimming. My swim was pretty disastrous. My goggles fogged up and leaked, I expended a ton of energy finding a position in the pack, and I was fighting against my wetsuit sleeves the entire time. This was the first time I’ve swam with a full arm wetsuit and it felt like I was pulling against elastic bands with each stroke. I got tired pretty quickly with next to no swim training leading up to this race. I never found a good rhythm and just couldn’t wait until I got back to shore.

Bike:

The bike course was two loops with three 180 degree turnarounds on each loop, which was a bit annoying, but the terrain was slightly rolling, which I absolutely loved. I went down to my aero bars, found a rhythm, and just tried to hammer. These SoCal athletes don’t mess around with their equipment. My circa 2004 tri bike felt like a knife at a gun fight against some of the machines that were on the course. I had more than a few moments of bike envy. Despite not having done much biking to date, I thought I had a pretty solid performance. My run fitness definitely carried over to my bike but I know I have a lot more potential in this event.

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Run:

A two lap course that was pretty flat. Running after biking normally feels awkward but I didn’t notice it so much this time. Unfortunately, marathon training did not translate well to the run leg of a sprint triathlon. Most of my runs have been at a MAF heart-rate with the intent of building aerobic speed over a long distance. However, the run portion of a sprint triathlon is an anaerobic pain cave that I hadn’t prepared for. Either way, I was determined to chase down a guy that had passed me right at the end of the bike so I just tried to turn my mind off and get after him (I did manage to catch him about halfway through the 2nd loop). I actually wished the run was a bit longer because by the time I started to loosen up and turn up the pace the run was nearly over.

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Overall, I was pretty pleased with my result because I know there is still a ton of room for improvement.

30-34 Division Place: 12/55

EventTime
Total Time1:10:47
Swim10:55
T101:46
Bike33:44
T201:02
Run23:22

San Diego’s Newest Residents!

The reason the blog posts have been lacking as of late is because we moved to San Diego! The last three months have been an emotional whirlwind of saying good-bye to our family and friends and the place we’ve lived the last 14 years. It was hard to leave Minneapolis but it is exciting to have a fresh start in a new city. Change is good.

As a result, my training and overall wellness plan has fallen by the wayside the last three months. Before leaving Minneapolis, my wife and I hit up our favorite restaurants and hung out with our friends and family as much as possible. That, combined with trying to wrap things up at work, packing, selling our house and planning a move across the country made our final weeks in Minneapolis fly by faster than we would have liked.

Upon landing in San Diego on July 1st, it has been hard to establish a normal routine. We are planning to temporarily live in a downtown apartment until we figure out where we want to buy a house. We arrived about a week and half before our stuff so all we had during that time is what we could fit into three large suitcases and two carry-ons. The first few days were mainly spent shopping for some bare necessities, camping chairs, and a new TV.

My wife started work pretty quickly upon getting to San Diego and I had about two weeks before I started work. Our first week and a half was mostly spent getting our bearings (nearest grocery store, hardware store, etc.), buying and building furniture, getting California drivers licenses, registering our cars, establishing wi-fi etc. We still made sure to have some fun by checking out some restaurants and hanging out with friends that also recently moved from Minneapolis.

Once our stuff arrived, it basically was a full-time job for a week to unpack and organize. Even though I was unemployed, I’m not someone who can focus on extracurricular activities when my living space is in complete disarray (i.e., boxes stacked to the ceiling, needing to step over things to get from one room to the other, and not knowing where anything is). Our apartment is about half the size as our house in Minneapolis with significantly less storage space. As a result, we needed to get two storage units. Figuring out what we keep in the apartment, store, or donate took some time to figure out.

Despite all the moving chaos, I tried to stick to my core foundational principles as much as possible. I definitely had my fair share of cheat meals and cheat days (ok….a cheat week or two as well) but I took each day as a new opportunity to refocus. Since I was unemployed for three weeks, it was a luxury to sleep without an alarm clock and wake up naturally. I got plenty of low-level activity unpacking all day, walking to do errands and taking the dogs for a walk. One of the biggest initial challenges was trying to maintain a paleo/ancestral type diet in a new city when I didn’t know where to get good quality meat and things like Kerrygold butter, pasture eggs and full fat yogurt without needing to go to five different grocery stores on a regular basis. I’ve started to leverage Thrive Market for pantry staples. As it relates to meat, I still haven’t found anything like I had with my True Cost Farm meat CSA in Minneapolis. I’m probably going to start ordering from US Wellness Meats.

One thing that dawned on me is that I’m going to need figure out a pool and bike and run routes. Even though that is an exciting proposition, it makes the idea of doing either one a bit more daunting and harder to just go for a swim, bike, or run when I had a window of time and the motivation. I’m looking into joining the San Diego triathlon club and finding bike/run groups. Not only will that help me learn some good routes but it will also help me meet some like-minded people since we don’t really know many people in the area right now.

Once I started work….everything changed. I started in the midst of a really exciting project and was working non-stop 12-14 hours days right out of the gate. The mixture of stress and lack of sleep led to eating lots of junk food and drinking a LOT of coffee. Not only that, but I don’t have a standing desk yet so I spent all that time sitting. I was doing everything I could to get low-level activity (parking in the back of the parking lot, going to the furthest bathroom, etc.) but I don’t think I was getting more than 20 minutes of low-level activity each day and I wasn’t doing any mobility work. As a result, my body just felt wrecked. On a positive note though…I absolutely love my new job!

Work has finally calmed a bit and this weekend is the first one with any normalcy. Now I can start undoing all the damage from the last month. I need to get back to prioritizing sleep, eating a paleo/ancestral diet, integrating low-level activity into my day, establishing a mobility program and spending time with my wife.

After nearly two months in San Diego, we are finally starting to feel settled into our apartment and new jobs. I can’t wait to start taking advantage of the luxury of great weather all year round and exploring all that this city has to offer. This is going to be a great place to live, work, train and make the concept of a Tri Balance Life a reality!

2015 MN Ironman Bike Ride Recap

My first organized event of the season was the MN Ironman Bike Ride last Sunday, April 26th. This event is an annual early season ride in Stillwater, MN and offers a good opportunity to test the legs and endurance. It is a causal event with different loops that offer 100+ miles of riding.

This was the ride’s 49th anniversary. One interesting fact about this event is that it was around before the Ironman Triathlon name became trademarked and, from my understanding, is the only event that is allowed to be called an “Ironman” outside of the branded Ironman Triathlon races.

My dad and I planned to ride together and we wanted to get started on the course as soon as it opened up. Since I still needed to register and the start was a 30 min drive from our house, I was up at 5am. It was a disorganized early morning due to some poor car logistical planning on my part which, unfortunately, resulted in waking up my sick wife who was not happy with me and understandably so.

I also planned to use the ride to test out a new nutrition strategy. My breakfast was just a Bulletproof coffee with 2 tablespoons of Kerrygold butter, 1 tablespoon of coconut oil, a few pinches of cinnamon, and a half packet of stevia. In lieu of the usual Gatorade in my water bottles I made two bottles of my own sports drink that each consisted of 3 tablespoons of chia seeds, 1 tablespoon of raw honey, a pinch of salt, and 16-24 oz. of coconut water.

The weather was expected to be the best this ride has seen in years. Typically the weather for this event is cold, rainy, and/or windy. The morning temp was in the mid-30s and was expected to get to 60 by mid-morning. Therefore, my clothing choice was a typical bike jersey and shorts along with arm warmers, leg warmers, wool socks, and a light pair of full finger cycling gloves. I didn’t want to start with too many clothes because I didn’t want to have to deal with what to do with them when it warmed up.

We arrived at the Washington County Fairgrounds just before 7am and started on the 60 mile loop that went north to Scandia, MN around 7:30am. My legs felt great but I quickly realized that I wore too few clothes because I wasn’t warming up like I was expecting to. We rode along the beautiful Gateway Bike Trail average 16-17 mph for most of the way up to Scandia. By the time we got to the Scandia rest stop after about 30 miles I was absolutely freezing. My hands were so cold that I couldn’t unbuckle my helmet or work my phone. Luckily the rest stop was inside and was serving hot coffee. I ate a banana, drank some of my sports drinks, and had two cups of coffee. Finally, after about 10 minutes of warming up we started riding again and the temperature was already about 10 degrees warmer.

From that point on I was finally able to warm up and I didn’t get cold again. The next stretch of the ride was rolling hills, which is my favorite terrain for biking. My dad and I picked up a couple of guys for a pace-line which was all the motivation I needed being at the front to really let it go. We were average 22+ mph and I felt great! By the time we got to the next turn I had completely dropped my dad so I sat up and waited for him. The guys behind me said thanks for the pull and one guy said it was like riding behind a bread truck. That comment made my day.

The weather was absolutely perfect as we rode back towards Stillwater at a comfortable pace switching between bike trails and roads. We made a quick stop at another rest stop where I finished the rest of my first bottle of sports drink, which I actually really liked despite it looking quite questionable (my dad was repulsed by the contents).

There were a lot of other riders on the road with us at that point which wasn’t a surprise given the weather was so good. However, when we made the turn off of the 60 mile loop to head south to Afton for a another 25 mile loop, there was next to no one on the course. It was to the point where it was reassuring to see signs for the ride because it felt like we were off the course at times. We essentially had the road to ourselves so my dad and I had a good chance to chat as we continued to ride at a comfortable pace of 16-17 mph. After about 60 miles, my legs were definitely starting to feel the distance.

The Afton loop was quite a bit hillier than the morning loop so it was great training and the scenery was classic Minnesota. We got to our final rest stop in Afton around mile 68 and I downed my last water bottle and ate a banana before we headed back out. The rest stop volunteers were also commenting about the lack of people they were seeing on the route given the weather was so nice. Some theorized it was due to the Minnesota Wild NHL playoff game that was at 2pm. Personally, I would prefer to bike on such a beautiful spring day than watch any sporting event on TV.

The steep rolling hills continued and we started to see more riders on the road after the rest stop. Our average pace dropped quite a bit in the hills. I was much stronger on the hills than my dad so I ended up dropping him with about 7 miles left. At that point we were both getting tired so it was time to just bring it home. My back and shoulders were also getting sore because I haven’t ridden aero bars in a while.

We ended the day at 84 miles and I actually felt pretty good afterwards. I’ll probably continue with the homemade sports drink because it seemed to burn cleaner than Gatorade for me and I wasn’t starving at the end of the ride like I usually would be.

Overall, we had a great time! The event was really well-organized and the volunteers were phenomenal. This was a perfect start to my 2015 season!