Monday, August 19, 2013

Gluten Free Oat and Date Muffins

Fun things going on at my new company +Demanding Life Foods.  One big aspect is finding recipes that are easily adjusted to be gluten and cow-dairy free.  While for some these things may seem like a fad, they really have serious health and performance benefits.  You can look to various attributes such as inflammation from gluten or hormones found in cow's milk for the easy wins for changing a diet, but also the long term goals of having a more varied diet that has shown to bring health benefits as well.  Unfortunately, most of our mass produced foods are made with severely inflammatory substances that harm our cardiovascular systems in the short term, but also may trigger worse disease such as cancer or Alzheimer's in the long term.

On a personal level, changing recipes from cow's milk or flour didn't seem appetizing from the beginning.  Many store bought items just don't taste right without normal ingredients.  Take the gluten free beer I tried to be nice and get my wife last week.  Very bad idea, and tasted like soap almost!  One sip and that was out the door. 

Fortunately baked goods, when done right, can be pretty tasty.  A favorite around +M2 Revolution and our clients has been some delicious Date Oat Muffins I found on Eating Well.  The first obstacle is always the flour used for baking.  My wife had already found an amazing baking mix with Pamela's, but also using sorghum flour from Bob's, gives baking a great taste and texture.  

The dates in the muffins are perfect for adding natural sweetness to the muffins.  Other muffin recipes call for twice the amount of sugar while the dates cover this in a more health way, packed with other nutrients to improve health.  The consistency is great as well with chopped walnuts and toasted rolled oats mixed in before baking.

Changing out the buttermilk in the recipe causes a bit more concern.  That is more of a crafting ingredient and took some research, and chance.  We settled on goats milk opposed to a nut milk as I had done with other recipes like oat meal.  It worked great!  Using a guide to help gain the creamy attributes of buttermilk, the muffins came out like nothing was changed.

If you want, go ahead and try them out for yourself!  They are available in our Personal Chef/Catering menu throughout the week, so give us a try too!

Here is my altered recipe for a dozen:


    • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons gluten free rolled oats
    • 1/3 cup chopped walnuts
    • 1 cup Pamela's Baking Mix
    • 3/4 cup sorghum flour
    • 1/3 cup flaxseed meal
    • 2 teaspoons baking powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 2 large eggs
    • 2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
    • 2/3 cup goat's milk
    • 1/4 cup goat's yogurt
    • 1/2 cup orange juice
    • 1/8 cup conola oil
    • 2 tablespoons freshly grated orange zest
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 3/4 cup chopped pitted dates, (see Ingredient notes)
    • Prep:
    1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Coat 12 muffin cups with cooking spray.
    2. Spread 1 cup oats and the walnuts, if using, in 2 separate small baking pans. Bake, stirring once or twice, until light golden and fragrant, 4 to 6 minutes for the nuts and 8 to 10 minutes for the oats. Transfer to a plate to cool.
    3. Meanwhile, whisk Pamela's Baking Mix, sorghum flour, flaxseed meal, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl.
    4. Whisk eggs and brown sugar in a medium bowl until smooth. Whisk in goat's milk, yogurt, orange juice, oil, orange zest and vanilla. Add to the dry ingredients and mix with a rubber spatula just until moistened. Fold in dates, the toasted oats and nuts, if using. Scoop batter into the prepared muffin cups (they'll be quite full). Sprinkle the tops with the remaining 2 tablespoons oats.
    5. Bake the muffins until the tops are golden brown and spring back when touched lightly, 15 to 25 minutes. Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Loosen edges and turn muffins out onto a wire rack to cool slightly before serving.

    Wednesday, July 17, 2013

    Demanding Life Foods

    A new adventure in my life is starting out very soon.  Back from an amazing wedding to the love of my life, the next exciting chapter begins!

    Over the past few years this idea has been developing in my head.  Training for triathlons while working a full time job was rough.  Obsessively working on getting a hold of my life, weighing 250 pounds, the stark realities of how hard it was set in.  Learning how to balance the training, work and developing a healthy diet/lifestyle was a huge part in my weight loss and improved health.  I had always loved cooking, but didn't really have an outlet aside from the small meals I was preparing for myself and my future wife.

    The project started by a chance conversation with a friend at +M2 Revolution.  In August of last year a friend gave me the opportunity to develop a meal plan for him, as he was a vegetarian and didn't eat a balanced diet.  His job as an attorney, and training schedule took up a great deal of his free time which limited his food options when in a hurry.  Enter me!  Putting together a balance daily set of meals, that both supported his diet requirements, and training regimen, was complicated at first, but brought out some great meal options I had really never explored with my own personal cooking.  In the end, Demanding Life Foods was born!

    People in San Francisco, and everywhere, have incredible ambition and drive for their professional and personal development.  Our mission is to fuel their lives with balanced, healthy, and tasty meals to help remove a stumbling block to maintaining a healthy lifestyle to match their fruitful careers.

    To that end, Demanding Life Foods will open for business this August in San Francisco, especially for Ironman Lake Tahoe athletes in their final phases of training!

    The end menu is not vegetarian, but incorporated some of the dishes.  Hopefully in the near future I can offer a fully vegetarian menu, but for now it will be a mixture of healthy meats, fruits, vegetables, cheeses, and nuts.

    Some of the best aspects of our cooking is the concentration on Organic and Non-GMO ingredients.  Its not feasible to source 100% Organic, but nearly all ingredients are certified organic.  Another great benefit to our menu is the Gluten Free and Non-Cow's Milk aspects.  Gluten sensitivities affect more people than realized, and most can benefit from a reduced amount from wheats and flours.  Gluten causes inflammation in general among all people, so the benefits to any athlete is strong.  The removal of Cow's Milk products has multiple benefits, and really no drawbacks.  Using Sheep and Goat based products, as well as Almond and Coconut Milk, our clients can satisfy their taste and nutritional needs, with less risk of hormones and irritation from Cow's milk.  Demanding Life Foods goal is the fuel our clients lives, to help them meet their goals.

    You can view a sample menu and pricing for a week here.

    Calorie needs for each client is based on their specific needs.  After filling our a survey, each client will have an email consultation with our Registered Dietitian to make sure the menu plan is a good fit for them. We know you will love the tastes of the foods we deliver, but sometimes, people have conditions where they should seek other dietary avenues for their health needs.  Once the survey and consult is complete, our recommended calorie levels are set for the client's daily needs, be it 1,500 to 3,500 calories a day.  Serving sizes are based off this amount, and your meal plan is set for deliveries.

    Food Delivery

    The big benefit to our program is delivery.  For anyone with a busy life there are obstacles to overcome that mostly include time.  There is no ordering to take care of, no pickup, no box of food on your door-step in the middle of the night to worry about, or even a time to coordinate for a hand-off.  Demanding Life Foods acts as a personal concierge and delivers your food to your refrigerator while you are out, taking care of all these worries.  We are a fully bonded and insured company, and each delivery will be made by a trusted employee (me for the beginning), who has gone through extensive screening and background checks.

    In the end, I'm leaving the corporate world and exploring a brand new adventure that I will happily share with everyone.  Target date for first food deliveries is August 18th.

    To contact me about options and start our consultation process please email me at info@demandinglifefoods.com.  Website still being developed.

    Like us on Facebook too!   Still working on logos and filling out the page.

    Wednesday, July 3, 2013

    Wired Article and Photo Shoot

    Photo credits: Talia Herman/Wired


    Recently I had the great pleasure to participate in Wired Magazine's "Living the Wired Life" series.  +Christina Bonnington had contacted SF Tri Club about possible athletes to help in the process, and of course I jumped at the opportunity.  While I'm not an expert in the sense of DC Rainmaker, I've tried enough technology (and wasted enough money on bad things) to give a good understanding of what helps an athlete, and what is just throwing money away.

    As the interview and subsequent email exchanges continued, I got a sense they were looking for something a bit more involved, and triathlete like, obsession.  Yes, the evil triathlete trait was being delved into.  I didn't have a problem with it, as many triathletes can tell you, we are obsessed to a fault most times.  As long as you can accept it, you can work with it to make sure it does not ruin your life.  As some of the commentators on the article have pointed out, the obsession is a means to ignoring larger things in life, and I definitely agree.  My journey started as a way to get back to a younger, healthier self, but also as an escape from breakup.  Luckily my journey transformed into a new avenue for both work and personal growth, but that is not always the case.

    There is definitely more to this story coming very soon.  Triathlon gave me my health, some incredible friends, and professional growth I was searching for.  The great people I've shared my life with in the past, luckily stuck with me through this growth period and I couldn't be more appreciative as I probably wasn't emotionally, or physically "available" until I figured it out in my own head.  A big turning point came in meeting my wife Whitney.  While I'm still learning a lot about sharing my life, there is no other person I would rather take that journey with than her.

    +WIRED did a great job with my story and I can't say enough about my appreciation for that.  +talia herman  was wonderful to work with as well on the photography.  Luckily my friend +annie gherini was around to help coach me, and try to get me to stop smiling so much in the demo workouts.

    Here are more of the photo's that didn't make it into the shoot.  Running through all the equipment at +M2 Revolution was exhausting, but it was such a fun experience that I'm happy to be a part of.




    Tuesday, May 7, 2013

    Oceanside III - Return of the Healthy Triathlete!

    I've always loved racing Oceanside, and for multiple reasons.  #1 Its a mini family trip where my parents come to the coast from the desert, #2 Top competition come to play, #3 its a fair course with some climbing, but not overly aggressive, keeping the field honest and no drafting.  My first attempt, I was still learning the distance, and developing leg strength.  Second try, I was coming off an injury with little running.  This year saw my winter losing ground with some bruised ribs after launching from mike bike!  My training group rallied over the past few months and motivated me back to fame form.  Still a few pounds off race weight, but body felt ready to push hard for the day.

    With a great lead up for the month ahead of the race including our .5 Fe Training Day at M2, I felt confident in my bike, but less so for the swim and run.  Last year the winds brought a crazy wake into the harbor, and I posted a pitiful 34 minute swim.  My heel problems have persisted, and there is still a mental block to pushing hard in training.  Oh well, guess its time to see how the winter had treated me through trial by fire!


    Picked up by my limo er parents at the airport:)  Get settled at the hotel and go through the normal rigamorole of race prep day with the expo, packet pickup, dinner, etc.  Highlight of the day was walking through the Expo and Whitney stops dead in her tracks when she spots the Corbins.  Whitney's favorite triathlete is Linsey, and she also follows Chris Corbin on Instagram as they have a golden retriever, Madison, that is very photogenic.  Whitney sheepishly approaches Linsey and just wanted to say how much she appreciated the shoe advice on Instagram and they started talking and asked where we were from.  Suddenly they ask "your dog is Sailor?" and Linsey gives Whitney a huge hug!  Sailor is the next big thing on Instagram i guess, never thought I would be that happy to call myself a dog owner;)

    Race morning and I'm feeling good!  Two good nights of sleep, good breakfast and my Dad and I our out the door down to the swim.  Take care of all my business easily and down to the boat ramp.  No winds, much warmer this year, and little stress, but excited.  Its going to be a good day!

    Swim

    After last year's debacle, I'm looking for redemption, especially in navigation.  I line up on the right, second from the front, but nobody is really pushing to get set up.  Countdown going, and its a pretty mellow start.  I see people battling it out along the buoys  but I'm content to push hard on my own to start and keep a straight line for the first turn.  The water is smooth and its easy to sight and we make the slight turn out to the end of the course.  I slowly make my way to the buoy line and we are hitting the earlier waves already.  Dodging traffic, this was a perfect swim so far.  No panic, good stroke, and feeling fast for a change.  Round the furthest part of the course and back, navigating well this year!  Serious traffic from previous waves and I'm back on the ramp, heading to my bike.  I don't wear a watch so I had no idea what the time was, but it felt good.  Turns out it was probably a little short, but I'll take it!  Turns out to be 5 minutes faster than 2012, and 10 spot improvement in the Age Group, so while it was short, it was still an improvement.

    Swim time: 29:10 - 45th AG 



    On the bike, and the day felt good to go kill it.  I'd done a great effort review of last year among all the athlete's results on Strava, and I had a very good plan of what to do.  One race day change was the wind though.  It was coming in differently than the previous years and hit us much harder on the climbs surprisingly.  Oh well, still worked out, but no PR's on the uphills.  

    Flying out the first 28 miles is always fun, absolutely blasting by people, but the rest of the athletes were riding correctly, and to the right, so not much yelling or drama.  One guy in my AG cruises by me, and there is no way I can match the effort, so I let it go.  A few minutes later, another passes and I look down at my watts and I'm slacking.  Time to wake back up and go!  Sitting on top of my gears I get back up over 300 watts and make sure I take advantage of the tailwind until the hills.  The first hill is just a punch to the gut that you have to just go for or you end up grinding at too low a cadence.  I have a 26 big cog on the back and maybe should have had my 28.  60 cadence for the second half of the climb and pushing 350 watts with some heavier peaks.  I lost too much time being conservative last year, so I was pushing limits on hills this year.  Up and over, a fun decent, but then the long climb up Basilone.

    This is a lot long a climb than people realize, with a false flat starting at mile 31, and continuing to the steep rise at the end at mile 36.  Its another punch to the gut, but you have to hit the final rise hard enough to keep momentum and a good run over the top.  We were exposed to the wind which definitely took its tool.  I pushed 50 watts harder this year, and still lost 5 seconds to my time, but the effort paid off in the end.

    Steep descent with the no passing zone.  Sat up and watched speed as this is where someone died a few years ago.  Pass the turn and back in aero to carry speed into the flats.  Final climb approaching and not sure what happened.  Low heart rate on this climb, but high watts.  Could have gone better, but maybe my "dark" time on the bike.  Again pushing big watts to get over, but slightly slower than last year.  Fly downhill and hit my 30 minute left mark on the course.  I was a little worried because I was slightly behind schedule.  The winds were lighter and not straight on this year, so I had a chance for my 2:30 bike split goal.  Loving the speed on this section compared to other years.  It can be the most demoralizing section once you are below 10 miles left, but grinding into a headwind.  Legs were still responding and it was go time to get my split without killing my run.

    Once I get back through the gates of the base its almost time to shut it down and cruise into T2. Rode the race I wanted and finished up just under goal!  Side note of my finish is I must have been delirious and thought is was a good time to try taking my feet out of my shoes before stopping.  Nearly killed myself.  NEVER TRY NEW THINGS ON RACE DAY.

    Bike Time: 2:28:55 - 14th AG 




    Perfect day for a great run along the Strand!  Last year's rain was not to be seen and it was ripe for a PR.  I still hadn't gotten good run form out of myself this year, but it was coming along, and much better than last year so it was time to put a hurting in.  I get to see Vince and Mike who look to be in the zone looking for podiums and crazy run rankings.

    Out and back North, then the ramp, which I almost face planted into.  I saw my family just before and got all excited.  With a little extra speed, and flat light, I really didn't see the start of the ramp and almost crumpled to the ground with my first step up, lol.  Heading South I start seeing the race leaders and the changes going on which was exciting.  My heel is holding up, as well as my pacing.  The temperature is coming up as well and you can see people starting to melt a little.  Head down, concentrating on my run and I'm reeling in some of my AG'ers whom passed me out on the road.  

    Back through for lap 2 and the legs are still responding.  The course is getting busy with more and more people coming in off the bike.  The narrow section North of the pier is the worst and I was forced up on the sidewalk twice to keep from losing my momentum.  Most of the lap traffic was aware of the fast runners coming through and graciously moved when they heard people coming.  No kitty gear this year, but the M2 kit was getting plenty of cheers coming back to the pier and out on the final loop.

    I finally see Virgilio and he is cruising out front of his Age Group.  Sandrine comes along for a few minutes on her first lap to give me some encouragement.  If parts of the run weren't so tight, and so much concrete, this would be an almost perfect setup as I love looped courses where you can see where you are both on the course, and where your competition is.  Coming up to the last turnaround I see BC Mike and yell at him to not let me catch him.  It works for a bit, but I reel him in a mile later.  Good race for him though.  Just another 2 miles and I'm home.  I pass my last AG competitor and charge ahead to leave no option to follow.  Taking the turn downhill back to the water and the beach is going nuts with the sun and surf being up.  Ironman's new "Tent Village" setup makes the final stretch even better with people lining the street for all of us. 

    Taking in the scene the last quarter mile was great.  Nobody around and I can enjoy the chute for a change and know I had my best effort for the day.


    Run Time: 1:26:02 - 7th AG

    Total: 4:29:13 - 10th AG, 29th Overall nearly 10 minute PR!

    While I cut 10 minutes off my time from last year, it actually put me a few spots higher in the final rankings.  It was just amazing to see the talent turn up for my Age Group, but I'm beyond excited for my result.  Now, time to relax with the boys, have fun with the family and look forward to Wildlfower.

    Tuesday, March 26, 2013

    Kona Holiday errrr Race Report

    Finally coming back to this post after nearly five months.  For a bit it was hard to reconcile in my head, but I did still truly enjoy my second Kona experience.

    Sometimes the best lessons learned are the hardest to get over.  I don't think I ever got my head around how I should feel about this race, or if it was really a race at all.  Mostly it just turned into an act of not giving up.  This was Kona for Pete's sake, these opportunities don't come around that often.

    While I know there are times to pull the plug on a race for fear of injuring yourself, and I respect that, but I started this thing, and damned if I wasn't going to finish.
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    My Kona dreams of blasting away a 9:30 IM, and chasing down my buddy Tim were dashed two weeks ahead of the race as an IT Band issue hit me hard as a result of not listening to my coaches.  I had a great plan laid out, and one workout did me in as I pushed it too hard to try to cap off a season of injury frustration.  You live and learn, but hopefully if you are reading this you'll head that advice.

    Well, off to Kona now for the Miller family retreat round three for a bigger, better, just not faster experience!

    My parents treated us well with an amazing house up the hill on Palani.  Overlooking the town 1000 feet below, this was a great place to get away from the hub-bub and relax.  Big pool, kids running around and the  family together is always nice.  We had our normal swims to the Coffees of Hawaii Espresso Bar, bike rides out the Queen K, and beach time in Waikoloa.  My Dad and I decided to take a ride along the Hawaii Belt and I highly recommend it opposed to the Queen K, just make sure its early in the week because its a good deal of climbing.

    The first of a few amazing pieces to this trip was our Dolphin tour with Sunlight on Water.  Some of the family didn't deal too well with the rolling sea, but with crystal clear water, and some really large pods of spinner dolphins, it was amazing!  Diving down and getting within 20 feet of these guys was ridiculous.  And of course they put on a show jumping out of the water too.

    In our attempt of divine intervention to heal my knee, we invited Sister Madona to the house for dinner one night.  The blessing didn't work, but it was great to hang out with one of the notable amateur athletes of our day.  It was a fun night of stories and history around the race which I won't forget.

    My Mom and Dad did get some divine intervention by winning a Challenged Athlete Foundation raffle for lunch with Chrissie Wellington at the TYR House!  Mom wanted to go, but she had already planned a Sea Horse trip for the kids in the family, so I got to go hang out!  My Dad and I were dumbfounded at what was going to happen as we had lunch with an icon of the sport.  Turns out, she is pretty cool to hang out with!  Once we got over the standard retirement, what are you going to do next things.  The conversation turned to normal everyday stuff.  Of course I had to share some Hello Kitty love with Chrissie, and at the very least she put on a good show of appreciation, but who doesn't love Kitty!

    Race day comes and its time to get down to business.  I had gotten through (still pain, but manageable) an hour run at 8:00 mile pace two days prior, but still big question mark on how it would play out.  Roll through body marking, find a place on the grass behind the King K hotel, and try to relax.

    Pro's are off and its time to get in the water.  Definite nerves as the swim just sucked for me last year with a myriad of issues from leaky goggles, to cramping.  TYR hooked us up with the custom goggles, which I had them make in M2 colors, and they were working great all week.  Slow crawl in the water to the start and lined up about 5 back from the front, about 2/3's to the left as well.  Trying to stay as calm as possible, and keep enough space around too.  The helicopter is heading for us for their dramatic shot and BOOM!

    Head down and trying to just move forward and get good breaths.  Not as combative as last year, and after a minute, I actually find myself in a hole in the water, with really nobody around!  It was impossible for me to go off course with so many to the right and left, but I had open water, yippeee!  For me, drafting at this point isn't worth as much as clean water until I get into a grove with my stroke and breathing.  turns out from some pictures I saw, there were two main draft lines and I found the middle.  A few minutes later there was a convergence, and that is where the some good old "rubbin son, is racing" came into play.  No real blows, but lots of contact.  Handled it pretty well since I was all warmed up at this point, and it seemed people were polite about it as well.  Making the two turns I still felt good, and was holding pace with people, finally getting a draft.  The warm water began taking its toll and I could feel some twitches forming in my calves.  Thank God I could see the Pier though.  Cruising along with people screaming is an awesome feeling.  I knew I had done better than last year.  Out of the water, a quick glance at the clock, 1:10!  Wahooooo!  That's good for me in a non-wetsuit swim.

    Swim: 1:10:43
    T1: 4:11

    Grabbing my bike and jogging to the mount line, very happy to see more bikes around than last year and I'm ready to go after Stefan's time and chase down Timbo who probably smoked me out of the water.  Rolling through town my watts are sky high!  I don't know whats going on because I don't feel like I'm pushing too hard?!  Check my heart rate and it has settled to 140's, something's wrong.  I must have calibrated my Powertap with some torque on it by accident, $#it!  Flying blind, sort of.  It seems to be consistent, so if you look at my Strava ride, I'd say 400 watts is 260 instead.  There will always be a few things that go wrong in the race, you just need to be ready to deal with it and move on.

    Long ride coming up, and I'm feeling good.  Take it easy getting out of town as I go by what was a brutal accident at Hot Corner with a spectator taking out a cyclist.  Crazy crowded, so need to just get through.  Finally up Palani and out on the Queen K.  Long line of cyclists ahead is always a sight to see.  Thoroughly enjoying myself, cruising through the field.  I'm on top of my gearing and staying out of trouble, traffic and draft packs forming.  Lots of penalties given out which is always awesome, I'm feeling even better!

    My second time through the lava fields is much more enjoyable.  I'm zoned in on the race, but not so worried about every little sound or happening, just plugging away all smiles.  Off the Queen K and onto Kawaihae, the group of people is always nuts.  Along with the people who make the trek to Hawi, I love these guys for getting out there.  Wind is picking up and its going to be interesting coming back down from Hawi as its a cross wind this year.  The climb to Hawi is just a grind as usual.  Benefiting from better bike fitness, along with the cross wind and not the head on wind from last year, I best my time by a minute (20:48) to get up to Hawi.  The turn and I'm getting excited to hit the roller coaster back down.

    Last year I spun out my compact crank, but I have a standard on this year.  Not 30 seconds into the descent and I'm up to 40 MPH and spinning out the standard!  Harsh crosswinds throw a little wrench in my attack, but still much faster than last year.  A big gust hits and blows a poor girl off the road.  I thought she was going to hold onto it, but as she slowed in the dirt, she hit a rock and endo'd.  A support moto was right there at the time and stopped to check, but I don't think it was catastrophic.

    Retracing the Akoni Pule and back on the Queen K the legs are still feeling good, but my feet hurt!  At this point in the race is usually when it happens, and I actually take some pleasure in it because it keeps me engaged and not thinking about how much everything else may be hurting;)  After this race, time for some new ones though.  Three years, and 6 IM's and I think they have seen better days.

    Twenty miles left and I think I'm going to hit my race goal of taking down Stefan's time last year.  Unfortunately, the winds had picked up and no matter how far tucked I could get, there was no speed left to gain.  Swallowing my pride, I let it go, but very happy on a hard day to have bested my own time from last year.  I still needed to try to run after this, and chasing a bike time was not in the cards.  Into T2 with the amazing crowd as usual.  Love seeing the SF Tri crowd that always comes to volunteer (Thanks Bourgon's:).

    Bike Time: 5:04:57

    Shoes on, remembering my GPS from my bike this year, and its time to see how the knee feels.  Cruising out to the crowd, and Hello Kitty is always a fan favorite.  Up the quick climb and then back down to Ali'i, the knee was holding up!  Nothing fast, but respectable!  Giving it some more time to make sure, I get through town and out to the sponsor houses where I could relax a bit in my stride without throngs of people at the waterfront.  Pacing along at 8:30 min miles, I decides its time to see if I can push the pace down to 7:30.  I'm four miles into 26, and taking a half hour off my time seems like a good idea.  30 seconds into the effort and it feels like more than just a dagger, its a freaking spear being thrown into my knee.  I nearly fall over and stop dead in my tracks.

    Is my day over?  Did I put a nail in my day at Kona?

    I decide to walk for a bit.  100 yards later, jog, and boom, knee pain, but a dagger this time.  Walk some more.  Doing the math in my head, walking at this point is not a preferable mode of transportation and would make it 5 plus hours.  I hit the turnaround on Ali'i, and people are very nice cheering me on.  I take their generous thoughts and give a jog a chance again, and I can do it!  Its a bit of a dead-legged hobble, but I'll take it.  My Dad rides up and see's I'm in trouble and wishes me well.  I needed him out there to keep me going and I appreciated it.  Finally after another mile, the hobble turns into more of a jog.  A one leg job, but still hitting 10:00 mile pace.  Back into town and at least I look like an athlete again.  This isn't going to be as much of a physical test as a mental one.

    My family is waiting at the bottom of Hualalai and at that point I was happy to stop for a second.  My fiance gives me a big kiss, the kids cheer and they are happy to see me running and not walking.  I was happy not to be walking and have them out there an extra few hours waiting for me.  Up the hill we go!  Top out on Palani and out the long grind of the Queen K.  Chrissie is chasing her boyfriend and gives me a good cheer as well.  I was excited to be able to see the rest of the Pro race unfold in front of me as well.

    With the mellow pace, I got to make friends out on the race course.  Where I'm usually running a heart rate of 150 and growling with my breath, now I'm at a leisurely 130 and wanting to talk to someone to help spend the time.  Enter GoSonja!  Sonja ended up being my victim for most of our time out the Queen K.  Not sure if she like the chatty Brett I had become, but hey, she was cruising along with me.  She was having a sub-par day, so we figured agony needed company.  She's a Mom, Coach, and very fast AG'er from Boulder.  It was good to have someone there and I very much appreciate the Queen K run with her.  On the way to the Energy Lab I get to see Leanda Cave chasing down Caroline Steffen, and the rest of the top women flying down the road.  So cool to see.

    Almost to the Queen K and Timmy comes blowing by me delirious, but recognizing me.  He's having a great day, and making himself suffer.  The Energy Lab is a different world when you aren't deep into it in an IM.  The aid stations were a riot with the kids doing a great job entertaining.  A few of them recognized me (off course with the kit) from last year and gave a big cheer.  Climb back out of the Lab and the final stretch back home.  The sun is getting low, but I know as long as I can hold onto the 9:00 mile pace that I'll be home before dark.

    The final climb up Iron War Hill was a different story than last year.  I was digging deep for 3:20, but this year I was trying to keep my leg together for 4:20.  Favoring my stride to one side had taken its tool and I could tell my left leg was not very happy with me.  Cresting the top and I knew it was an easy time home.  Downhill was not fun though as every step asked me to extend my right knee much farther than it wanted.

    This was the first time I looked forward to the end of my season.  The long year had its ups and downs and the finish was a great place to celebrate it, and put it to bed.  I longed for the time a few months away when my body would be 100%.  Taking in the finishing chute was amazing to help the healing process begin.  No matter what happens in your race, the finish of an IM is such an experience if you pay attention.  People just going nuts for someone they don't know.  Climb the ramp to the finish, thank God for surviving, and I'm DONE!
    Snuck into IM Europe's Kona video at the end: http://youtu.be/ExVpVAO6tgw

    Run time: 4:21:57

    Total Time: 10:47:59









    2012 was a great, but rough year of life changing events, as well as pressure to follow up with another Kona.  I am happy to have persevered through some hard things physically and mentally, but elated at where the year has brought me personally with my fiance and family.  2013 brings me together with my fiance in our wedding and starting our life together, and I get to throw a few races in there as well.  Different priorities and goals with my coaching starting up as well with M2.  The people I have surrounding me are the reason I'm successful, and I can't thank them enough for everything they do, they mean the world to me.

    Good luck to everyone in 2013, and we'll see you in Oceanside to kick things off proper!


    Friday, February 1, 2013

    West Coast Ironman Kona Allocations

    Much has happened these last two years with Ironman on the West Coast.  From new races, Tahoe and Cabo, to big drama up North, it has been interesting to watch.  To say the least, it is going to be a competitive atmosphere at many races, with athletes vying for the precious Kona slots at each race.

    With Tahoe opening up early last year, I think the whole state's tri community jumped at the opportunity to have a race in driving distance.  I'm definitely in the minority in not doing this first year race, but I'll be up there supporting my friends and athletes for that brutal course.  Not jumping in on this may be the best decision some athlete's made as I'll describe below.

    Breaking out the participant lists, I developed a projected slot allocation based on previous allocations I've seen.  Much can change come race day, as the allocation is based on finishers not registrants, but it gives a good picture.

    Ironman Los Cabos - March 16th
    The first race for he west comes up soon, and with 50 Kona spots available, and a max of 1,500 people, its almost your best shot if you are in shape early in the season.  Registration is still open, so they may not even fill the 1,500 race spots.  Hopefully they will publish a participants list so I can have fun with the numbers.  If they do, I will update.

    Ironman Coeur d'Alene - June 23rd
    The next race is the favorite among many in Coeur d'Alene.  This June race can still freeze out a lot of competitors with its cold water, and air temperature from year to year.  There are 50 Kona slots available, but over 2,800 registrants.  Definitely a hard go for many, and with SEVEN 70-74 year old's fighting it out for 1 slot, late night on Sherman Ave should be a fun one!





    Ironman Canada - August 25th
    Last year's exit from Penticton was an amusing drama to unfold with the city bringing in Challenge Family racing to replace Ironman, unhappy with their current program.  Lucky for the patient athlete's who didn't jump on the Lake Tahoe bandwagon, Ironman rolled out their most lucrative Kona slot allowance, offering up 100 slots to make sure people registered for the new Ironman Canada in Whistler.  This untested race, looks pretty cool, and should be a great addition to the schedule.  There are still Foundation slots available, so if there was ever a race you wanted to try to qualify for Kona, this is it.



    Ironman Lake Tahoe - September 22nd
    Finally we arrive with the race people in California have been waiting year for.  A race to finally call our own up in Tahoe.  Completely sold out, this event occurs in the 2014 Kona calendar, so if you qualify, you have over a year to wait and compete in October 2014.  Sweet deal, unless your "significant other" rolls their eyes at the notion of 12 more months, ha!  

    Altitude and a mixture of dry, variable weather will test athletes on this course.  The bike route is grueling, but Ironman laid out a rolling/flat marathon to soften the hit to athletes' egos.  Only 50 Kona spots for this race as well, but as seen in other 1st year races, the level of competition may not be there across all age groups.  Being in California, this race may buck that trend.  This race has proportionately more women though, taking more Kona slots, and increasing the competition for the Men looking for the Big Island.  Again, late night at the finish could be exciting with three 70-74 year old's and two 75-79 year old's dueling for Kona.

     I like to play with numbers and always like to know these things for both myself and my athletes so they have a good perspective on things going into their races.  I'm planning my 2014 schedule right now, so I like to see where things stand.  Hopefully it helps others out too.

    Friday, January 11, 2013

    Athlete Performance Breakout - IM 70.3 - Oceanside

    For many people, racing in triathlon is about "fun" and living a healthy lifestyle.  While performing well is a high priority, it is not the end all by any means.

    While "fun" is a relative term, what I'll try to do today is attempt to explain proper pacing through the bike leg of a triathlon using Ironman 70.3 Oceanside as an example.  Oceanside is a perfect example of what can go well, and horribly wrong if the bike leg is not given its proper attention either through under-training, or overexertion.  With this course's widely varying terrain, all skills of the athlete are brought into play with steep climbs, rollers, and good flats.  One must be adept at knowing how hard to push, or not to push in all these areas to have a complete race and legs for the run.

    The ride through Camp Pendleton enables a special view into how participants fared in the race since these roads are mostly closed to outside civilians.  With limited rides taking place on this course and stretches of road, pouring over Strava ride data gives a perfect set of sample data without the masses of rides on normal routes.

    If you are unfamiliar with Strava, a short synopsis is it compares GPS rides and run against other athletes' uploaded routes, and ranks them according to determined "Segments" set up by users who think they would be useful tools for training.  From this a reward system shows you how your latest performance matches you previous ride/ride, as well as the rest of the Strava world.  For example, Oceanside 70.3 has various segments set up and the major climbs and full route are below:

    Full Oceanside Bike Course - 54.8 miles - 2,500 feet of climbing
    First Pendleton Climb - .5 miles - 300 feet of climbing
    Basilone Climb - 4.1 miles - 460 feet of climbing
    Basilone Final Climb - .6 miles - 210 feet of climbing
    Pulgas Basilone Climb - .5 miles - 170 feet of climbing

    Using these segments, along with each athlete's half marathon and historical race results, we'll show how proper and poor pacing can effect a full race.  None of the above climbs are that severe, but the body only has a limited capacity to absorb major damage that can be inflicted on some of these short and steep inclines.  Each time an athlete overexerts on a climb, they may not affect their overall bike time, but more than likely, their run will suffer.

    "There is no such thing as a great bike followed by a poor run." - I've seen this quote used a lot and would love to figure out the first to coin it. 

    So, we now come to our stable of 31 athletes who have uploaded their data to Strava and are easily found in all segments. I'll leave them nameless and review them in general as to not overly praise, or poke fun at.  As I said, each athlete does this for their own fun and it is not our place to chastise.  An objective view of this data is what we are bringing to the table for those who would like to learn from these athletes.
    In my analysis, the above segments are taken into account, as well as their full bike time, run time, as well as heart rate and watts when available.  To make the data manageable, the results were ranked against the smaller pool of participants, as some results from previous years muddle the Strava rankings.  

    The 20 mile preamble to the bike course lets athletes thoroughly warm up, and usually provides a false sense of how the race will unfold with a normal south tail wind providing a push up the coast.  This can add to athlete's need to push harder up the hills as well as their goals may have shifted to faster bike splits as they hit the halfway point ahead of schedule.  

    Full athlete data can be found here.  Any input is welcome to further the analysis.  Let me know if you have any questions.

    From the first climb, we can see  a wide thinning of the field through the rest of the course.  Of the top half (15) of our sample, a drastic re-shuffling occurs.  By the second climb, Basilone-4.1 miles, 5 athletes have dropped to the bottom half of the field.  At the top of Basilone, many of these athletes felt a resurgence when seeing the peak and pushed their way back to their peak power and only two were left lagging.  Reaching the final major climb of the bike course it was surprising that only three athletes who took the first hill in the top half had dropped to the bottom half of the field.  I was thinking the theory of overexertion may be wrong?  Nope, taking the full course into consideration you can see that 6 of the athletes who charged that first hill, and the rest of the climbs, had dropped to the bottom performers.  

    A better distinction of how the race played out for people is ranking their Average climbing rank, against their time rank.  For example, Athlete K ranked 20th, 18th, 19th, and 13th respectively on the major climbs.  Nothing stellar in that aspect, and bringing his climbing rank average to 17.5, making him the 19th best climber in our field.  What is stellar is that even while giving up time on those climbs, his overall time for the course ranks him 12th in our field, a 7 spot improvement!  A great piece to his data as well is that he was using a powermeter so further analysis can be gained.  His entire ride averaged 232 watts, and none of the climbs exceeded a 20% margin.  Marked with a PR Half Ironman Run, this was a near perfect race for this athlete.

    The next example will be overexerting climbs and a severe drop in overall bike rank.  Athlete C ranked 5th in the climbing portion of the bike course, with charging the 1st Climb in 2nd, tempering his pace for Basilone in 16th, surging the top of Basilone in 6th, then climbing Pulgas in 5th position.  These were great climbs, but in comparison to the 24th best bike time, not as much.  This athlete also finished the run 20 minutes slower than his Open Half Marathon PR.

    A prime example of under-exertion comes from none other than me!  I think I got into my own head a bit too much in preparing for this race.  I am still a bigger guy, so I climbed conservatively.  In looking at my ride files, it was much to conservative.  Even as a bigger guy, I didn't increase my watts on the climbs enough and ended up with the 20th ranked climb average.  When you compare this to 8th ranked overall time in the pool, there was probably 4-5 minutes left out on the course.  The one bonus of under-exertion is that you guarantee legs for the run!  Even while coming off an injury through January, as well as running the new, convoluted run course, I managed a faster half marathon time than the previous year at 1:27:14.  This adds to the adage that pushing harder on the bike can exponentially slow your run time.  It was the choice to make sure my under-trained run had a chance, but looking back, the bike could have been better.

    Back to the climbers once again to measure how their climbing rank, pairs up with their overall time.  I would say that a 4 spot margin would be acceptable change in climbing rank to overall time rank.  That equates to around a 5 minute change to overall time from the rankings.  Outside of this margin you can see many incredible climbing efforts.  From the field, you have the 3rd, 5th, 13th, and 17th ranked climbers.  Unfortunately, these athletes averaged a drop of over 10 spots in overall time rank.  All of these athletes were in our first group of climbers to charge the first climb as well.  You can see the destructive power of charging a hill from this group and the importance of proper pacing.

    Hill climbing is only half of the equation.  Even if an athlete managed to ride a continuous effort through the bike course, it still may have been too much for them on that day anyways.  Unfortunately, since I can't interview each athlete to find their overall biking ability, we will have to assume that they are trained for the event, as well as research their best historical run times to help reveal overexertion on the bike.  The 70.3 distance is also a place where things can go wrong and effect finish times wildly.  Its hard to really pinpoint if someone just had a bad day, fueled improperly, or was just injured.  

    I'll leave the run analysis to the reader now.  Unfortunately, without knowing the athlete, or speaking with them, it is extremely hard to tell if they under performed or not in the run.  The rudimentary data I can pull from other race results doesn't show a distinct trend either except for the severe over and under performing climbers.  The lesson I guess is finding the edge you can push on the bike and be able to hold it together for the run.  It seems simple, but watching people pass you on a hill can drive even the most disciplined athlete crazy.  Today's world also rewards cyclists for their efforts with KOM's.  If that is your motivation, have at it.  I'm going for a PR.