Sunday, May 23, 2010

Race for a Reason

One of my clients Brett is training for his first Ironman. He will be doing Lake Placid in July. You can read about the reason he is racing at his website He is raising money for a cause that is important to him. Please visit his website and support him. I decided last year to do my first race and raise money for a cause that was important to me. It was a really great feeling to know that you have a purpose to your training, other than making you feel better physically. We (most triathletes) are very self absorbed in our training. When I was training to raise money for the NSPCA it was a very different feeling. I always had in the back of my mind that I wanted so bad to help all the neglected animals in the shelters. I wanted to get as much money as I could for them. I wanted people to know that I would be thinking about these animals, and all the support I got from everyone every mile I ran. It was the most rewarding race I have ever done. Not because I had a great finish, because I didn't. It was rewarding because I did something to help a cause close to me and many others. I support Brett not because he is my client, or because I have a personal attachment to Parkinson's. I want to support him because I know how it feels to be so passionate about something you want to scream to everyone that will listen. Even if you give a little or if you choose to give a lot you are part of his journey. Once again his website is Brett's training is going great! We actually ran 12.5 miles of hills today. We ran the Red Rock loop. Then we went for a swim after. I swam fast intervals with Michael and Brett did some longer intervals on his own. He is going to do awesome at Ironman Lake Placid! Yesterday I had the opportunity to get underwater videotaped by Swim Las Vegas. Paul Fritz and Kara Robertsons were great. They videotaped me from several angles and provided me with the DVD at the end of the session. Kara went over a few things with my stroke that I could work on. I know everyone thinks I am perfect but you will clearly see I need a "little" work:)

In the video they have a pro swimmer (not me lol) at first, then they show me from the same angle. There are something like 3 different angles to see. I would highly suggest doing this if you live in the Vegas area. It is only $65.00 and well worth it. You can contact them at It is one thing to think you swim a certain way but another to actually see it. From this video I learned I angle my arm slightly in with one hand and I swim with my head a little too high. This is fine in open water but not so good in the pool. I also rush through my stroke. As Kara put it I fight the water. It was a very informative hour and great to actually see what I am doing wrong.

I have to say congratulations to Jason one of my clients in New York. He finished his first half marathon and did a great job. I was telling Brett today as we were running that I get almost as nervous race day for my clients as they do. A few weeks ago Jason had a bad day at a 10K. It was hotter than normal and he pushed a little too hard. I told him what he needed to do for this half marathon so he wouldn't have issues. A lot of the problem was overcoming the mental aspect of the bonk at the 10K and knowing he could do this. I was anxious to hear about his race. I got this reply when I asked how it went: It went perfectly! I finished 1:57:54 with an avg pace 9:00/mile. Another P.R.! I'm so psyched. I couldn't have done it without your advice. I did everything you said. I just concentrated on running my target pace and as the race progressed, I kept on getting more and more confident. The confidence put my mind at ease and i started to relax - I got into a great rhythm and I was feeling really good (so much so that I tried to give a pose to every photobucket camera dude on the course!) I was pretty fired up at the start, I could have run a lot faster, but I kept holding back knowing it was a long race and there was no way of telling how I would feel by mile 9-10. The Garmin 305 helped a lot, kept me consistent, and prevented me from getting too excited. And it paid off - big time. By the last two to three miles, I was feeling really tired, the temperature started to get warm, but I had enough in the tank and enough will power to psyche myself up to finish real strong. Once I saw the finish line from 800m away, I gave a really nice kick at sub 7min pace. As a coach when I see something like that I am just as excited as the client that I coach. Great job Jason!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Barefoot running - is it a fad or really good?

I hate fads and when something new comes along I rarely jump on the bandwagon right off the bat. Most fads are short lived and don't have much merit to them. Just like this new fad of shoes that tone up your legs and butt called sketcher tone-ups or something like that. What a joke and if your reading this please don't buy those. Donate the 100 dollars to a charity or something. The money will be much better off. I can't believe people buy into the myth that they can lose weight by wearing a pair of shoes. The other fad that annoys me is this new HGH diet fad. Apparently you can take this injection and suddenly lose weight. Oh wait you ONLY get to eat 500 calories a day! Well anyone should know that if you eat 500 calories a day you will lose weight. You will also regain it right back when you start eating normal again.

There is one fad however that I am beginning to think does have some merit to it. It actually became popular last year when the best selling book Born To Run came out. Leslie, one of my clients at the time bought me the book. It was an amazing read and turned me on to the idea of barefoot running. I waited until I heard more about it before embarking on this trend. I wanted to see and talk to more people that were doing it. In fact it was not until recently when I started incorporating a little of it into my training. You might ask me why I thought this fad was worth trying out? There is little or no research saying it is beneficial. So keep in mind what I am saying is just my opinion based on my knowledge of fitness and training. In the book they make the point that because we wear shoes that provide so much support we are not using the muscles, ligaments, tendons in our feet. This is making them very weak and more susceptible to injury. They also talk about a tribe in Mexico that runs with these sandal like shoes (they run hundreds of miles) and have very low incidence of injuries.

I was talking with another trainer at the gym. He wears the Vibram Five Fingers when he trains people and is on his feet all day. The Vibrams are basically shoes that only have a little amount of rubber on the bottom and no support. You can see them at He said before he started wearing them he had very flat feet. He said since he started wearing these he has developed a little bit of an arch. Sound crazy? Not really because when you wear shoes with all that support you are not using any of the muscles, ligaments, and tendons in your foot. Your arch should work like a bridge and be able to support and handle a lot of stress. It becomes weak when it is not used and not able to work like it is supposed to.

So how should you incorporate barefoot running in your training? Incorporate a very small amount into your training slowly. If you are on your feet at work and want to start wearing the Vibrams at work then only do it for about 20 minutes at first. If you want to incorporate it into your training you can do it slowly as well. I have started doing 10 minutes of drills and easy jogging before or after some of my runs. I am not sure I will ever do more than a few miles with my Vibrams at any one time. I have not read any expert say you should run long miles barefoot. It just does not make sense. Take it slow and don't be over zealous. If you start out too fast you will likely get injured. If you are smart and take it slow it may strengthen your foot, arches, ligaments, and tendons. This will lessen your chance for injuries associated with the foot, ankles, calves, and knees.

I wanted to touch on my last blog post about the Mdot tattoo. Wow, I got a lot of emails about that one. It clearly was a subject that sparked some controversy on both ends. I am sad to report that

my friends Christian and Jimmy did get the tattoo yesterday! Here is a picture of Christians lovely tattoo! He did not take ANY of my advice. It is big and on his calf. Oh well better that it is on his calf and not mine.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

The Ironman Tattoo

I wanted to talk about the Ironman Tattoo. I am a fan of tattoos and actually have a few. I have completed 4 Ironman races and DON'T have an Ironman tattoo. I hope I don't offend anyone reading this who does have the tattoo. I feel the need to express my opinion (that is surely a surprise)! If you are one of the many with the tattoo please keep in mind I say all this in fun and I will still like you even if you have one. I might make fun of you but I like you. You might ask, what I have against the Ironman tattoo? I think there should be a disclaimer that a person has to sign when they get an Ironman tattoo. They should have to agree to complete an Ironman at least every five years for the rest of their life. If they don't agree to that they should not be able to get one! Too many people get the tattoo and then suddenly stop training and get fat. If you do one Ironman and get the tattoo then suddenly don't workout are you still an Ironman? Then some people gain a ton of weight but still have the tattoo. Is that really a good representation of an Ironman? I think not! If anyone wonders what the tattoo looks like at the top of the blog is the Mdot (that is what they call it) logo. My client Hollie has a ton of tattoo's and she agrees with me about the Mdot tattoo. I like her tattoo pictured here. It is on the backs of her arms and says "I love to run". I like it but I am not gutsy enough to get a tattoo on my arms. I figure if I ever go back to work in the corporate world that would be a problem. I don't plan on it ever going back to work in the corporate world but you never know.
If you want to represent the fact that you did something amazing it should be unique. It is so funny to go to an Ironman event and see all the SAME tattoos. Who wants to get a tattoo that everyone else has? At some point I plan on getting a tattoo that shows my love of the sport. It will be unique to me and my personality and will not contain the Mdot!
When we finished Ironman St. George Christian and Jimmy were all ready to get their tattoos. Neither of them have any tattoos but plan on getting this one! Whatever! I told them not to get it really big, so that it covers their entire calf! That cracks me up when people don't just get the tattoo but they get it so big that it looks even more ridiculous. Even better are the people that get one for each of the Ironman races they have done. The BEST (or Worst) is actually one of my on/off clients Adan. I love Adan (and hope he still loves me after this) but he got an Mdot tattoo and has only done a half Ironman not even a full. He did put 70.3 next to it so at least he is being honest but really?

I am feeling great since doing Ironman St. George last week. I had some issues with my calf for a few days but that was it. Here is a picture of me being helped out of the water after the swim. I was in such pain from cramping in both my legs. It is pretty funny! I will not forget that. Maybe I should get that picture tattooed on me! Just kidding.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Ironman St. George Recap and My Near Death Experience!

I did Ironman St. George last weekend. Going into the race I felt pretty good. My training was not as consistent as it had been for previous Ironman races but I trained hard for this race. I averaged about 20 hours a week of training for the last month going into the race. I began to ramp up my training back in January.
Let me start off by saying if you were even thinking about doing this race I would personally NOT suggest it. It was one of the hardest Ironman courses I have done. Most people who have done several Ironman events said the same thing. The water temperature was in the mid 50's. Air temp in the morning was in the 40's. The winds were blowing and the high for the day was in the 70's. You will have enormous hills to climb all day on the bike and run! So if that doesn't scare you away from this race then you are as crazy as I am. For the first time in an Ironman I had to change clothes for each leg of the race because of the weather. I usually will race in what clothes I swim in. In this race the cold weather did not make that an option for me. I actually rode the bike in gloves, tights, bike shorts, tri top, tri shirt (long sleeve), jacket, and toe covers. Even with all that I did not stop shivering on the bike until mile 20. The swim chilled me to the bone and almost killed me. I am really not exaggerating! I have never had problems cramping in any race or in training. I was not dehydrated when starting this race either so the cramping had to be from the cold water. The last thing I would ever think would happen to me would be cramping in the swim. This just goes to show you that you never know what can happen. You can train perfect and be sidelined by some crazy scenario. We started the swim and it was chaos from the start. Ironman swims are crazy from the beginning. In most cases people spread out in the swim after about 15 minutes. This did not happen at all in this race. There were people on top of people the entire time. As I was fighting my way through the thousands of people I could feel my legs wanting to cramp. I kept trying to shake it off and keep going. It progressively got worse the longer I was in the water. Finally I could see we were headed into shore. At about 200 meters from shore my legs completely locked up. Hundreds of people slashing around me rushing toward shore and I couldn't move my legs. I also could not touch yet so I was clawing my way and not going anywhere. It was at this point I thought I may drown. I kept trying to get to where I could see the bottom of the reservoir. Finally I could put my hands down but keep in mind my legs were not working so I couldn't walk. Two volunteers pulled me out of the water and held me up. They asked if I wanted to go to the medical tent and I immediately said no and tried to walk away. I finally got some use of my legs but my right calf was still hurting from the cramping. I limped my way to the changing tent. The women that was helping me change must have thought that I was nuts for going on. I was shaking from the cold so bad I couldn't talk or zip my jacket. I guess about 20 people in my age group finished the swim and did not continue. I did not want to be one of them. If that experience was not bad enough I still had 112 miles to ride in the wind. The weather report was calling for light winds in the morning and moderate winds in the afternoon. It was more like moderate in the morning and major winds in the afternoon. Damn the weather forecasters! I remember riding a hill at one point and a huge dust storm came blowing by me almost blowing me off my bike. My bike time was 1 hour and 10 minutes slower than my fastest Ironman bike time. Not only that but I could feel my calf tightening up all day on the bike. I was really concerned that I would not make it through the run. Finally I got off the bike and was headed out to run the marathon. It seemed like forever but I managed to grind it out and finish. The feeling of finishing something like that is amazing. I wanted to quit so many times throughout the day. I was so amazed to see all types of people doing this. At one point I saw a guy who crashed on his bike, broke his collar bone and was running the marathon determined to finish! We met a 70 year old man on the bus in the morning and he was doing his first Ironman! It is a very amazing experience that produces every kind of emotion imaginable. I had extreme highs and lows on Saturday. I had unforgettable experiences. I did something most people can't imagine doing. I wanted to scream for joy and cry in pain all in the same minute. I was so proud and so disappointed with myself at the same time. If anyone thinks they can't do something, think again because I am sure you can do anything you put your mind to. Maybe an Ironman is not your challenge. It may be a 5K, 10K, Marathon or sprint triathlon. Whatever it is you can do it if you just believe in yourself!
I had several friends that did this race as their first Ironman. All of them had great races and experienced the same type of emotions I have described. Crossing the finish they were blurry eyed and very emotional! Congratulations to everyone who took on the challenge Saturday!