HITS Naples – Sprint Course Race Recap

I originally posted this on Slowtwitch, but I’ve added what memories I have from a race that was 3 months ago.

Leading up to the race: I had driven from Philadelphia, PA to Wellington, Fl by myself on the Tuesday & Wednesday of that week prior. My car was loaded with two bikes, one single w/ oars, computers, clothes, and all kinds of other things necessary for my 4 week re-location.

My trip.
driving into the sunset
South of the Border. Classiest place in Amurrica.

After getting settled in our condo in Wellington for a couple of days, I packed up Friday afternoon and drove across the state on a road I believe to be called “Aligator Alley.” Unfortunately, I didn’t see any.

I arrived in Naples and went to the course to get checked in, get my bearings, and listen to the RD talk. They had a good spread of food, so I enjoyed some pasta and a brownie (or two) while listening to the speaker. My only memory, both now, and at the time, was a mention of a small change to the bike course, but that is was mostly a straightaway out and back, with one turn. Okay, cool. Crank city bitch. I then headed to my girlfriend’s aunt & uncle’s house, who lived nearby and were kind enough to host me for the night. I hung out with them briefly and then passed out in order to get enough sleep for my early wakeup.

The following day I got down to the course, got my transition area setup, and went down to the water to splash around and get a bit of a warmup in. At around 15′ to start time (7a?), we were all called down to the beach.

Swim: After everyone had gotten down to the water, and were starting to make there way into a mass start pack, those racing the sprint course were called about 1/2 way up the beach for some last minute words, some standing around, a prayer…. and then GO! When the race director started it, I didn’t even have my wetsuit zipped up all the way, so to say it caught me off guard would be a understatement. I remember thinking to myself, “don’t let this panic you or freak you out, everything is fine.” I threw my goggles in, lept into the water, and SUCKED. Despite some coaching from Beverly Peterson, I did not have a strong swim. A lot of it was due to the ocean swim as opposed to a pool or even lake, while a good portion was due to general inexperience and lack of skill. Halfway through, I also realized that my watch hadn’t started when I hit it. After exiting the water and running up the beach, there was a 100 yard dash to the T1/T2 area.

Swim time: 15:34.
Bike: What would normally be a strength for me, on this day, only further hurt my time. I got on my bike and started pounding to make up some of my lost time from the swim. I passed several people quickly, and after getting out on to the main road continued passing. This was a 4 lane highway (2 in each direction), with the right lane closed off and the shoulder also available for bikers. At least, thats how I remember it. Traffic wasn’t a huge problem for me but it was pretty early as well, ~7:30a. At a major intersection, the cops there routed the two bikers in front of me to turn right. Okay, then, followed them and passed them. Pound pound pound, sitting pretty comfortable in the 25mph range. After a couple more minutes I had no one in front of me and I figured I had passed all the slow bikers and was gonna see the fast guys soon. I knew it was an out and back, so after a few more minutes I got worried that I wasn’t seeing anyone coming back at me on the other side of the road. I finally got to a major intersection with no cops directing traffic and realized I had gone off course. Turned around and back tracked, and saw probably 4 other bikers that had done the same thing as me – shouted to them to turn around. Got back to the main road and saw that I had in fact been put off course. Had some words with the cop as I passed him, and then started cranking some more and spilling some choice language out about the extra 4.2 miles I had just biked. While thats normally not a big deal, 4.2 miles is an extra 25% of a 12.4 bike course. I reached the turnaround and started flying back down on the south side of the highway. On the way back, I was held at another traffic light for over 1 minute as the cops directed traffic. Several (~10) bikers were also held there. One complained and the cop started yelling at him and threatened to have him DQ’d. As soon as we could go, I got to the front of the pack, only to have this happen about 2′ later, but only for 20″ or so. Lots of cursing on that ride back. I made it back into T1/T2 very pissed off, and at this point, very flustered.

Bike time: 39:09. Bike distance: 16.6 mi. Avg speed: 25.53. So at that pace, I should have covered the 12.4 mi course in just over 29.’

Run: After racking my bike and slipping on my sneakers and hat, I headed out of T2 for the 5k run. There was little to remember at this point, or even really recap on, since today was going to go down as a “learning experience.” I do remember that as I ran out of T2, there was a switchback, and then another one, but this one was connected by a longer straightaway. I didn’t have anyone in front of me to follow, and at this point steam was coming out of my head, and as such, I ran past the cop that didn’t direct me to turn right. After I ran ~10 steps past him, I turned back and saw someone behind me going on the right course. I threw my water bottle at the ground in anger and re-directed. The course itself was a run along a suburbia road, with a scenic (?) view of all the beachside condos. Cars were going slowly, but there weren’t any cones or anything warning them of the race, I think these mostly retirees were wondering what all these weirdos were doing running around in spandex so early in the morning. I got to the turnaround point, which had the only fluid center, and headed home. I was able to pick up my pace a little bit in the last mile, but it certainly wasn’t a spectacular race by any means.

Run time: 23:21

Total time: 1:24:05. AG: “First” (every age was its own category, and I may have been the only 24 year old racing). Overall: 44th. Had I had not fucked up the bike, I would have been 1:14, and that would have put me 10th.

Observations and thoughts: despite the crappy performance by yours truly, I really enjoyed the race. It solidified that I want to keep doing this, and that I can do okay at it if I work hard enough. It gave me more motivation to work hard at the swim, since there is a lot of time that I could easily shave off that. My T1 & T2 times both leave something to be desired, as does my run. So the good news is all I have to do is start dedicating myself to actually training for these races, rather than just winging it. I learned a valuable lesson on knowing the course and paying more attention to course changes, but I would have rather had it happen at a local Sprint race than a 70.3 race. The RD was nice, and ultimately offered to comp another race entry for this year as a sign of good will. So I will race another HITS race again, in Cooperstown, in September.

don’t really think I earned this, but I’ll take it!

How I Lost 10 Pounds in 2 months

It was actually pretty easy.

I downloaded, and religiously use, MyFitnessPal (free) on my iPhone. Please note I’m not associated with the app in any way. But read on for more details (including a bunch of actual steps I took, and a sample food log).

Over the past 6 years of serious rowing (4 years college + 2 years elite), I pretty much just assumed that I could eat whatever I wanted, and I’d continue losing weight, because I perceived that I was burning so many calories from training between 12-18 hours a week. However, after dropping from 200 to 180 in my freshman year (due to a huge increase in training volume), I leveled off around 185 for the next 5 years. I’d have small dips in the spring as we went dry, and generally would be a little heavier (187-189) in the fall/winter. The winter increase was a result of the holiday parties and food and a greater focus on schools (finals week) and a decreased focus on training (down time + on your own training time). After graduating, I expected that I would drop pounds as I’d no longer have access to an all you can eat buffet 3x a day and would instead be cooking for myself. However, I still wasn’t dropping weight. I thought I was being healthy, as a general day consisted of: yogurt, oatmeal, raisins, nuts, string cheese, peanut butter & jelly on wheat bread, cliff bar, chicken Caesar salad, and lots and lots of dinner. On top of this, I was on my feet all day teaching, with 1-2 workouts on the water or erg. And still, nothing happened. In fact, I became more cemented at 185, with my range now fluctuating between 182-189.

When I decided to transition to triathlons, a couple of things became clear to me: 1. My foot speed would be largely dependent on weight. 2. My aero-ness on the bike would be largely dependent on body mass. 3. I needed to lose weight. I did some reading up, and talked to my girlfriend and brother, who helped me make a couple of key changes to my diet (some I had already done, but some may be new to you):

1. No soda, at all. I haven’t had soda in a couple of years. Replace soda with water. It doesn’t hydrate you, despite what Sprite commercials will say. I will admit I for a very long time still drank a ton of Red Bull/Monster, but even that I have swapped out for the sugar free/carb free type.

2. I had to make the very tough decision to cut out sour gummi worms + gummi bears, completely, from my diet. My love for them is unlike any love I have ever felt for another human being. If I could stop myself from this one single type of candy, there would be so many less Wawa/Quikcheck/corner store runs that result in a lot of bad news. I’ll still buy candy occasionally, but my desire for other types (with the exception of Cadbury eggs…) is not nearly as strong. To help keep these desires down, I chew a LOT of sugar free gum. Stride Mega Mystery is a personal favorite right now.

3. Swap regular orange juice (very high in sugars) for OJ 50%. It’s essentially watered down orange juice. If you can’t afford to buy this (its more expensive), just add water to your OJ. But in general, drink less OJ. Replace with water. Same for milk. Swapped 2% out for 1%, and then swapped that out for skim milk.

4. On any dairy products, buy the low-fat version. I’m not ashamed to admit I live on Weight Watchers String Cheese – 2 sticks = 100 calories.

5. Buy measuring cups! Holy crap, I do not know what a serving size is. Its easy to briefly glance at the back of a box of X and see that it has 150 calories in it, but then you realize thats in 2 tablespoons… I’m looking at you, peanut butter! A tablespoon, if you are guestimating, is the size of your thumb. Lifehacker has a bunch of great articles about how to do this. But seriously, buy measuring cups.

6. Use said measuring cups! And apply their sizes to the nutritional information printed on the back of processed food!

7. Be honest with yourself, and track everything you eat and do in MyFitnessPal. Its got barcoding system that is great for processed food, so its got the information pre-loaded in there for you. I also weigh myself every single day and add it in, to get a more clear picture of my average weight (which still fluctuates about +/- 5lbs throughout the week and weekend. But I always record my weight as soon as I wake up, after peeing, and naked. I am now consistently at 178 and I’m not really “trying” to lose weight anymore, although as I get closer to race season, I’ll try and go under 174 (total weight loss = 14lbs).

Thats about it. I’m sure there are other minute details I’m missing, but those are the big ones. I use a couple of heart rate monitors to track my work during training, and use those calculations as starting points in measuring output (calories burned).

Here is a “standard” day for me:

Breakfast: 1 cup frozen fruits dethawed, 1 cup Special K fruity mix cereal, 1 small Greek yogurt (usually honey/caramel flavored). Total cal = 280.

Workout 1: variable based on swim/bike/run

Snack: 1 Bagel Thin w/ 2 tbsp of Peanut Butter & Co. Total cal = 290.

Lunch: 1 Bagel Thin w/ 4 slices of turkey, 2 slices of low fat provolone cheese. Total cal = 280. 2x Weight Watchers string cheese. Total cal = 100.

Snack: Cliff Bar (Oatmeal & Raisin). Total cal = 240. Red Bull 8.4oz, Sugar Free. Total cal = 10. Keebler 100 calorie bag, chocolate covered pretzels. Total cal = 100.

Workout 2: variable based on swim/bike/run. 2 workouts/day will put me anywhere between 800-1500 calories burned.

Dinner: chicken Caesar Salad (~640cal), salmon w/ couscous & vegetables (~740 cal). Snacks if I want them/need them.

I shoot for no more than a 500cal deficit per day. Anything greater than that and I’ll make up for it, and some, the following day.

This has been plenty long enough and more than enough information. Good luck!

Oh, you again?

I’m embarrassed about the colossal failure that was posting to this website. One post per year = not good. Honestly, I don’t even remember the goal of this website. I think it was related to things I’ve learned in teaching… and… ? I know that its not a blog. I’ll do my best to continue with that.

I’d like to get into a bit more of a routine in posting to this. My life has slowed down a little bit, which is good. In past years, winter time meant lots of weekend trips to go snowboarding (yes, woe is me) in Canada, Colorado, Vermont, etc. This year, with the weather being so horrendous, or, as you people call it, warm, all those travel plans got tossed out the window. Plus, my snowboarding and travel buddies were all becoming more grownup, what with starting their own business (J.E.), moving in with their girlfriend (J.E.), constantly fretting about the next movement up the work ladder (T.T & C.S.), and becoming more serious about the Olympic Dream (E.W.). But I am happy for each of them in the new successes they are finding, so I can’t complain too much.

I’ll leave you all, whomever you may be, with this final thought: we, us “twenty somethings” that have “musings,” must occasionally take a step back and think about where we are in life. Relative to our own life plans, and to the life of others.

Don’t spend these years sacrificing your time, or waiting to arrive at a later, greater, big moment. There were times in college where I was making decisions that I thought were best in the grand scheme of allowing me to arrive at a later, greater moment in life. I never arrived at that moment. And as my friends and I sit around a camp fire, or at a bar, and reflect on our time and craziness in college, I realize I missed a lot of them because I was trying to make sure I prepared and arrived at the later, greater, big moment.

campfire "musings" of a "twenty something year old" in this "big new scary world called life"

I have no ill regrets about my college experience, I loved it, and anyone that knows me knows how much I worship the friends, teammates, coaches, moments, trips, and physical locations that defined my college experience. But could it have been more? Who knows. I’m happy with where I am now and what I have grown into, but I’ve now taken a new approach: make now be the great big moment.

Hopefully this gets updated before 2013. I’ll try and do some site re-designing as well, and maybe even come up with a theme. But lets not get ahead of ourselves.