Training

Acknowledging my ignorance: My Nutrition Consult with The Core Diet

You ever have one of those conversations where you realize halfway through what an ignorant dummy you’ve been?

That was essentially my experience during my nutrition consult with  The Core Diet this weekend.

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“Back in the day” finishing a leg of the 4X400 at UVM (2010).

By way of background, “back in the day” I ran D1 track while earning my degree in nutrition and dietetics at the University of Vermont. I was a sprinter in college but spent the next 5-6 years training for some longer races, including the 2013 Boston Marathon and most recently a half ironman (70.3) this past fall. All of this is to say that I thought I knew a thing or two about nutrition and training despite some lived experiences suggesting otherwise – e.g. debilitating muscle cramps, GI issues (oh, I could blog for days about the runner trots), essentially crawling (dehydrated and under-fueled) the last 6 miles to the finish line of 70.3… etc.

So, I finally figured when I signed up for my first full Ironman (IM Lake Placid 2018!!) that I needed to actually get my sh*t together. I was beyond pumped for my initial nutrition consult that came with my 1:1 coaching package from QT2 Systems.

Our conversation went something like this…

Me: I know everything about eating healthfully because I went to school for nutrition  (I’m paraphrasing….and I hope I didn’t sound this arrogant) 

RD: How do you usually fuel during long runs or rides?

Me: Hmm… I use Infinit sometimes—like when I have it—but I’m out of it now… so usually just water and a Clif bar or Gu or something.

When was the last time I fueled or even brought hydration for a run??

RD: What do your longest training days consist of right now?

Me: Two to three hours. I’m doing a two-hour trail run this weekend.

RD: You need to be fueling for something like that. How are you doing that?

Me: Ehh… I hadn’t thought about it honestly.  It’s pretty cold out…I’ll probably just carry a water bottle.

This sounds incredibly silly as I’m saying it out loud.

RD: You should have more than water and probably need more than one water bottle’s worth.

It goes on. We start talking about electrolytes and glucose and all things I “knew” or at least thought I knew, but definitely forgot how to apply. Namely, you need to fuel for long workouts (duh!) and there are ways to do that are better than others to keep your training on track over the long – term.

Long story short, RD Jaime (who’s a serious badass, by the way) dropped a whole world of wisdom on me during that 30-minute call. I swallowed (pun intended) my ego and and realized that sports nutrition for endurance is it’s own crazy discipline that I apparently know nothing about.

I picked up a new CamelBak (because I hate my handheld water bottle and fuel belts) plus some electrolyte tabs and put my nutrition refresher crash-course to the test on my two-hour trail run.  I’m pleased to say that it WENT AWESOME! Yes, I ran slower than normal (coach’s orders) but I felt confident that I could easily run another two hours without bonking… and what’s better than that? I actually felt so great and energized afterwards that I went for a second hike with my family later that day.

Training day: CHECK.

Time with family: CHECK!

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ That does not always work out so well!

Committing to Ironman training has meant surrendering to the idea that I don’t know everything, or even close to everything. It’s been about finding a team of experts that know their sh*t. It’s been about talking to other athletes, about listening more, about trying new things… and eventually I might figure it out. This weekend’s conversation got me one step closer.

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There is more than one water bottle’s worth in here and it didn’t bother me at all to carry. 🙂

 

Training

Rest and a run to take me out of my funk

Like so many others after the New Year, I started 2017 with a crazy amount of motivation to train. I had signed up for my first half Iron and started working with a coach for training for the first time.

I trained every day, rarely missing a workout. My “tempo” run pace quickly dropped from around 8:30 min/mile to 7:30 min/mile. I bought a new Trek Speed Concept (not a bad whip for a bad a newbie) and a power meter and watched my watts increase. My first race of the year (despite racing like a complete idiot) I took 3rd overall for women and won my age group at the HITS Hudson Valley Olympic.

That was July.

Then life happened.

Luckily most were good life-things but still life-things that needed to be prioritized, often times over training. (1) I was promoted at work, (2) we adopted a puppy (she’s the best), (3) my only sister got married, etc.

 

Some were bad life-things. I had two bad bike crashes in one month, the second ending with a broken hand just two weeks out from the 70.3 I’d been training for all year.

All that is to say that somewhere along the line, I forgot that I do this shit for fun. Training became a stressor instead of stress reliever: another obligatory responsibility that I’d grown to resent.

So, after my last race I took about 6 weeks off from “training”. I worked out when I felt like it, and I didn’t beat myself up when I didn’t. I gained a few pounds and didn’t sweat it. I mostly just focused on letting myself heal.

This week I started back up again. With a new coach from QT2, who I love, my training theme for the next few months is durability. I’m keeping my training effort very aerobic to work explicitly on building endurance (as a former college sprinter, my slow-twitch fibers are the ones that need the most work).

All of this is to say that I am doing a lot workouts at lower effort.  Lots of Zone 1 runs and rides, lots of swims where I’m not caring about the pace at all and just focusing on technique.

And you know what? It’s been awesome. This weekend I went out for a 90 minute easy trail run and genuinely enjoyed every minute of it. Loving that run took me out of my funk. I’m not sure I can remember the last time I found myself smiling during a “work out”. I’m pumped to do speed work again. Waking up at 5:45 to get on the trainer isn’t my favorite but I’m doing it and do not feel like I’m acquiring massive sleep debt along the way.

Ironman Lake Placid is 9 months away. My prep race for it is Ironman 70.3 Raleigh in June. I have plenty of time to stress about training as race day grows nearer… but it’s too early in the journey to sweat the small stuff. For now, I’m just pumped to be excited to train again.

P.S. Easier pace runs means more runs with Evie – so she is very happy too. 🙂

Race Reports

Recap: Sea Gull Century and My First 100 Miler

Some rides are not meant to be raced. Your first 100 miler is probably one of them. At least that was my takeaway from this weekend. I rode the Sea Gull Century ride in Salisbury, Maryland and had the most fun checking off my first 100 miler on the bike.

Going into the ride, I was in decent cycling shape coming off training for a 70.3 in September. Still, making the jump from 60 mile long-rides to the full century was intimidating, even on a flat course. I had never fueled for a ride that long and it was more hours than I’d ever put in the saddle. In my over-anxious mind… there was much to go wrong!

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The family – most of us rocking our Common Roots Brewing Company jerseys.

Turns out, I need not have worried. The day was perfect. I rode with my entire family and, despite coming into the ride with different levels of fitness, the group of us decided to stick together and ride socially. We built our own pace line and slowed down anytime someone came close to falling off. In addition to spending a lovely day together as a family, this was also great pacing mechanism, forcing me to quell my [overly] competitive nature, focus on fueling and hydrating correctly, and truly just enjoy the day.

As an event, the Sea Gull Century is a perfect course to ride for pure fun. Over 5,000 cyclists turn out for this fundraiser for Salisbury University. It is well-organized and supported by volunteers and draws cyclist from all different abilities. In addition to the 100 mile course, there is also 62 mile “metric century”. There are rest stations every ~20-25 miles (even one that serves beer 10 miles before the finish), the terrain is incredibly flat, and the 99% of the roads are in perfect conditions.

We only stopped at two out of the five rest stations but did spend a solid 20-25 minutes at each one, using the restrooms, fueling up, filling our water bottles and stretching a bit. I did find that starting up again after stopping was one of the toughest parts of the day so will keep that mind in the future… and maybe be a little quicker at the rest stops.

Other than that, I’m going to be arrogant and give myself an “A for execution” on my first Century. Here are some things that went well:

  • Pacing – riding several mph slower than I would have normally allowed me to finish the ride with some gas in the tank… i.e. great practice for Ironman when I’ll be starting a marathon (versus cracking a beer) off the bike. My legs felt fantastic (almost fresh even!) on my 5-mile recovery run the next day, which gave me some confidence about my fitness base going into the “off season”.
  • Fueling and Hydration – I ate some sort of solid carb every 20 miles or so (I like having something solid in my stomach) and kept my water bottles filled at the rest stations. I ran out of Infinit powder but filled up one bottle of water and the other with Gatorade and that seemed to work okay. The shots of pickle juice at mile 65 on Assateague Island were a game changer… I felt awesome afterwards.
    • Note: Had it been a hotter day, my casual approach to fueling may not have worked so well (I have a pretty high sweat rate). Planning to get more precise and dial in nutrition in prepping for IMLP.
  • Equipment – I hadn’t spent much time on my road bike since starting triathlon race season so decided to give it some love with a proper tune up before the race. Shout out to Mystic Cycle Centre – my old roadie rode great! My one blunder was forgetting to transfer my tube repair kit from my tri bike to my road bike, meaning I nothing to change a flat with. Luckily, we had just one flat in our group (and it wasn’t me), so we were covered in terms of tubes and CO2… still not a great move.

    Citra Session Common Roots Beer
    After being carried 100 miles, this tasted delicious.
  • Fun – I had fun from start to finish of this ride – took in the scenery, caught up with the family, and visualized cracking open the 16 oz can of Citra Session Pale Ale we each carried in our jersey pocket the full 100 miles. Slightly warm and shook up… It was as delicious as I imagined it being.

Summary: The Seagull Century was a fantastic experience. We will be back again next year to do it all again.

With my first 100 miler under my belt, signing up for the next one won’t be so intimidating. Any good race (or ride) suggestions? Currently accepting recommendations for my next century!

Cheers,
Kalyn

 

Me and Mom celebrating the way we do after the ride.
Unsolicited Advice

Year 1 as a Tri-Newbie: Lessons Learned

I did my first triathlon September 2016. It was an Olympic distance in upstate New York in the town I grew up in. Aside from a decent level of general fitness, I was totally unprepared. I mix-matched borrowed apparel and made every newbie mistake under the sun. I looked like a huge nerd but smiled through every minute of that first race. From then on, I was hooked. In my first year of racing, (with help from my coach) I dropped half an hour off my Olympic time from that first race, completed my first 70.3 and even picked up a few podium finishes along the way.

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My first triathlon. Almost everything I’m wearing is borrowed.

I’m still far (far, far, far) from being an expert—But I did learn a bunch this year…mostly through making a ton of mistakes. Here are some lessons learned from one tri-newbie to the next.

 

Training Lessons

    • Buy a heart rate monitor and know your zones. Prior to starting triathlon, my “normal” run pace was at my threshold HR range and I was doing that pace for 95% of my runs! Training with heart rate helped me shave over 5 minutes from my 10K time and avoid injuries from over training. Heart rate monitors are relatively inexpensive (comparatively, for the sport that’s annoyingly expensive) and probably the best bang for your buck in terms of training value.
    • Practice swimming even if you hate it. True, swimming is “the shortest leg of the race” but that’s actually a pretty silly excuse to not try to get better at it. Swim workouts used to make my skin crawl so I procrastinated the crap out of them. When I stopped being a baby and started putting in the time, my form and pace started to improve and the entire experience became less terrible.
    • Learn to love your bike trainer. Yes, riding outside is more way fun but the trainer is so much more efficient if you only have an hour or two to train. You can consistently hit heart rate or power targets without having to worry about traffic, stoplights, weather, etc. It can be a little rough at first but movies, playlists and fun cycling apps make trainer rides way more enjoyable, so does having a good bike fit. Which reminds me…
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I rode “in aero” 90% of this race. Bike fits matter.
  • Get a good bike fit. Especially if you’re on a tri bike! Riding “in aero” has a very different feel than a regular road bike. And no matter what bike you’re on, you’re going to be putting some serious hours on it so you want to be as comfortable as possible. I was lucky enough to get a really great bike fit using the Retül fit technology at Patriot Multisport in upstate New York. In my inexpert opinion, a good bike fit falls into the “not cheap but necessary” category.
  • Bike maintenance matters. Learn how to do the fundamentals: change a tube; clean your chain; etc. For minor adjustments, get an Allen wrench set and watch some YouTube videos. It may be a little intimidating at first, but knowing how to do the basic stuff goes a long way. Also, you should clean your bike and all of its components pretty often. This may seems obvious but I neglected to do so most of the winter on my new fancy tri bike and ended up with a stuck brake on my first outdoor ride of the season. (Did I mentioned I sweat a lot? Like… kind of a freaky amount). Clean that shit off!
  • Don’t forget chamois cream. Enough said. Especially on the long rides.
  • Remember you’re not a pro. This is was tough lesson to learn. There are days I would be super pumped to train but just couldn’t swing it between other responsibilities (work, family, etc.). It’s okay to want to be a badass triathlete that competes to the best of your abilities… and also has a life outside of triathlon.

Race day lessons 

  • Make a pack list and check it twice. Go through each discipline and transition to cross of what you’ll need. Don’t forget the little things like sunscreen and hair ties. *Two* races in a row I forgot my race belt, which wasn’t a huge deal but did cost me an extra minute or two pinning on my bib and added stress I didn’t need.
  • Be prepared for any weather. As the saying goes, “hope for the best but prepare for the worse”. My race at the end of this summer was 47 degree and pouring rain. I froze my spandex-covered ass off on the bike when I opted to wear just my race kit. Better to pack layers and not need them then not have them at all.
  • Know that the swim might be a little crazy. Until you’ve experienced it, there’s no real way to prepare for the chaos of the race swim. Particularly with mass starts, the crazy amount bodies in the water, kicking and splashing around you, can definitely be overwhelming. Unless you’re a super strong swimmer, it’s probably not a terrible idea to stick closer to the back or outside of the pack for your first few races.
  • Swimming straight is better than swimming fast. In my first race of the year I swam a great pace (for me) but swam an extra 500 yards, which tacked an extra 8-10 minutes onto my swim time. Practice sighting and, especially during the chaos of a race, be prepare to sight more frequently if you need to.
  • Practice transition. My T1 in my first race was laughably horrible. I couldn’t get my wetsuit off; I forgot to untie my shoes ahead of time (I use no-tie laces now); I couldn’t find my sunglasses; I left my bike in too high of a gear to get moving. It was just ugly. Practice ahead of time so you can layout your transition area the way you need before the race starts.
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Thumbs up for running….at the start of the run.
  • Pacing is a real thing: Respect it. Two races in a row (nope, didn’t learn the first time) I took off at my normal 10K race pace, not respecting the fact that I’ve ridden my bike 25-56 miles already. The results? A really miserable second-half of the run. Be smarter than me and hopefully you won’t hate yourself with just a few miles to go.
  • Have fun. I know, I know! This is the most cliché… but it’s legitimate advice! As many coaches say, the race is just the celebration of the work you’ve put in until that point. Take it all in. Give high fives when offered. Smile. Drink the beer afterwards. You’ve earned this celebration!

 

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Always have the beer after the race.

In addition to complete my first full Ironman, my main goal for 2018 is to have as much fun in every race as I did in my very first one.  Be serious but not too serious. Drink beer after every race (okay, fine… I should choose a more ambitious goal.)

…to be continued…

For more experienced triathletes, do you remember your rookie season? What classic mistakes from your first season of racing did I miss?

Race Reports

My (unfinished) Boston Marathon

Banner488By now, everyone who would be reading this has heard of the terrible tragedy that took place at the Boston Marathon. You probably have been watching the nonstop coverage on the news. You have seen the gruesome pictures and have heard the eyewitness accounts. You’re still trying to understand why someone would do something so terrible and your heart has not stopped aching for those directly affected.

I was one of the 23,000+ runners in yesterday’s race. If yesterday went as planned for me, my family and I would have been at the finish line around the time when the bombs went off. Instead, I was one of the thousands pulled off the course when the race was shut down. This is a story I wanted to tell… mostly for myself. I guess I am still having a hard time believing it all happened.  Continue reading “My (unfinished) Boston Marathon”