Essential Sports Nutrition

5/22/19

IM 70.3 Chattanooga Race Report


Pre-race
We arrived to Chattanooga on Thursday afternoon. With this being our 4th time Chatty for a race, it was nice knowing that we are familiar with the area. It was a fairly stress-free 4.5 hours of travel and Campy was super excited for his road trip. He loves the car and of course, being with us. The week going into the race was extremely rough for me. My body was exhausted from my last block of training and my hormones making me feel blah (more on this in a later blog). Karel was on and off - one day he felt pumped to race and then the next day he felt flat and tired. A lot of this was from lingering fatigue from St. George 70.3 just two weeks ago. Whereas Karel doesn't overthink, I experienced a roller-coaster of emotions, thoughts and physical issues on race week. Thankfully, come Friday I started to feel a lot better and the closer we got to the race, the more excited I was to race.

We booked a cool Airbnb townhome (pet friendly) just 2.5 miles from the race venue which made it easy to relax, spread out and get into the race zone. As usual, Karel's back was bothering him in the 48 hours before the race so it was another one of those unknowns of how his back would affect him during the race.


With this being a key race for our team, we had nearly 30 athletes racing (a mix of coached athletes and educational team members). It was so awesome to see so many Trimarnis around the race venue and to have (almost) everyone in one room for our typical pre-race pizza party + course/race discussion. A huge thanks to the YMCA for letting us host the event in the top floor meeting room. We ordered pizza from FIAMMA pizza company and it was so delicious.


After a bike and run on Saturday morning, we went to the race venue to set up our team tent in the Tri club village (thank you Run In for letting us borrow a tent!) and then a few hours later we returned to the venue to check in our bikes. Campy wasn't allowed in the transition area so a nice volunteer watched Campy For the rest of the evening, we watched ITU triathlon racing and cycling all while eating and visualizing our race performances.

Typically I sleep somewhat ok before a race but I got no sleep before this race. I was tossing and turning all night and it felt like I was awake the entire night. I tried not to get frustrated and reminded myself that even if I don't sleep, I can still perform well. Around 2am, I moved to the other bedroom hoping that a different bed/room may help. I may have managed to sleep a little but before I knew it, the alarm was going off at 3:45am. I felt exhausted and super tired on race day morning but just stayed calm and told myself that I would wake up once I arrived to the race venue.

Race morning
After taking a few sips of my morning coffee, I made my standard pre workout/race meal. Karel and I don't do much talking with one another on race day morning as Karel likes to be alone with his own thoughts so I just let him do his own thing. Luckily I had Campy there to talk to :)

After getting dressed in my race day gear, I did a quick jog/walk with Campy around the block to help wake up my body and to get my system going. Karel did his jog as well and around 5:15am we packed up the car with our gear and water bottles/flasks and headed to the race venue. We had already planned where we were going to park on the street so that made it easy to quickly find parking just a few blocks away.

After getting body marked, I helped Karel pump up his disc wheel and then my disc wheel (two person job) and we each set up our transition area. Whereas in IM 70.3 FL I felt flustered as it had been a while since I had to lay out my gear by my bike, I felt like this time around was much easier. Although I always seem to feel like I'm forgetting something. I made a bathroom stop before heading to our team tent to drop off a bag and then we walked to the bus area.

A little after 6am, we took the bus to the swim start (about a mile away) and it was already filled with athletes. The swim was a rolling start, seeded by expected swim times.We were tole pre-race that the swim may be shortened due to the current, which was not something we wanted but it was out of our control. Karel did a short jog warm-up and since I did most of my jogging by the transition area, I felt pretty good before putting on my ROKA wetsuit. It was great to see so many of our athletes near the swim start - so much positive energy.

Around 6:40am, I lined up near the front with no more than a hundred athletes ahead of me (I think). Karel lined up with two of our athletes (Al and Thomas) a few rows ahead of me. The planned 7am age group swim start was delayed as the pros (who swam the entire swim course) needed to pass our first buoy before we could start. Finally, sometime after 7:20am, the horn went off as the official start for the age groupers.

.75 mile swim (Shortened from 1.2 miles)
The swim was quick but we still had to work for it. Because of the shortened swim, I made sure to give a bit stronger effort than usual to try to make up as much time as I could before the bike. I was swimming hard right from the first stroke - which is not how I usually start a race but knew with the short swim, I had to go for it. I was really focused on swimming the shortest line possible to the swim exit (buoys on our right) and also with each stroke, I focused on catching as much water as possible and moving it forcefully behind me. I felt great in my ROKA wetsuit and found the water to be perfect - not too cold, but just right in the low 70s. I was bummed about the shortened swim but grateful that the swim wasn't cancelled. Before I knew it, the swim was over. The best part of my swim was exiting the water and hearing Karel's voice next to me. We both ran up the ramp together but it wasn't long before Karel's speedy legs ran away from me. That was the last time I would see Karel until the end of the race but I was happy that we exited the water (and that I beat him in the swim ;)

Karel's recap:
I was bummed that they adjusted the swim - short and all downstream. Even if I am not the fastest swimmer, I wanted the challenge of swimming upstream. Anyway, I didn't let it bother me. I couldn't change the situation so why waste any mental energy on it. I tried to swim very strong the entire swim, right from the first stroke. I felt very solid during the swim but if it would have been longer, I would have had to ease up a bit with my effort. Overall I'm happy with this swim. 

56 mile bike
After making my way through the long transition, I quickly took off my wetsuit, put on my helmet and cycling shoes (and socks), powered up my Garmin and rolled out of the transition area. The mount line was packed with athletes so I kept running with my bike (close to the barricades) until I had plenty of clear space to mount my bike.

For the first few miles getting out of town, I used this as my "warm-up" to ease into my race effort. I was happy I was on my bike and looked forward to the next 56 miles. Neither Karel or myself race with time goals or metrics goals so racing is entirely by feel - as we are constantly adjusting and adapting to the dynamics of the race. I actually never looked at my total time during this ride as my Garmin screen was set on lap intervals and I would lap the screen to focus on a specific section of the course at a time.

Once I got into GA, I settled into my race effort. I would check in with my power at times but otherwise I just focused on riding my bike well. It's hard to say how I felt on the bike as my watts were higher than normal and I wasn't feeling that pep in my legs. In other words, I felt really strong and could see I was working hard so I didn't expect to feel fresh. Breathing felt good and I reminded myself to keep my pedal stroke smooth (advice of my coach who gave me the OK to push the bike). I didn't feel like there were any big groups around me but I did have to navigate around guys ahead of me here or there. I would either stay draft legal until I felt like there was a good time to pass (typically on an uphill) or I would have to slow down a little which affected my rhythm. I spent a lot of time riding alone or with just a handful of people in the far distance. I spent a good chunk of the race riding in the sights of my athlete Al (either behind or in front of me) which was great to have another Trimarni athlete nearby.

I wouldn't say that this is a hilly course but there are hills - more like rollers. I started to feel better on the rollers and my legs started to open up. Once I got to the Andrews Hill (the "steep" hill on the course), I stood up to climb it and I instantly felt a lot better. I took advantage of the downhill to gain some free speed and then felt like I was really "racing". The last climb into Chickamauga felt good - a nice mix of aero, sitting and standing for me and then I enjoyed the descend right after that climb (although I felt like I still had to work for the descend).

It was cloudy out and a little windy but knowing that it was going to be a hot day, I made sure to use water from the aid stations (#2 and #3 aid stations) to keep my body cool. The water was cold which was refreshing.

The ride back to town was a little more filled with cars/traffic so that affected my rhythm a bit. Overall I felt really strong on the bike and within each section of the race, I focused on giving my best effort. I didn't have any issues or low moments although my ride side of my back felt a little tight in the middle of the race. It didn't concern me too much but looking back, it may have been my SI joint feeling loose due to my hormones (more on this later). This wasn't the first time I felt like this so I just put it out of my mind the best that I could.

I finished all my planned nutrition (sport drinks) and had a little left in a bottle as I brought extra just in case I lost a bottle at the railroad crossings (there are a lot of them in the first/last 7 miles so I was extra cautious over them).

After finishing the bike, I was looking forward to the run. Even though I worked hard on the bike, I reminded myself of all the runs I've completed off hard bikes and how much I really do love to run off the bike (seriously - my fav runs are brick runs).

Karel's recap:
I'm super stoked with this bike. I felt strong throughout the ride and felt good in the 2nd half of the ride. I had almost no back pain so that is a huge victory for me. I felt like I was really racing the bike instead of just suffering through like in past races with back pain. I was in a good group of guys who were racing strong and all staying draft legal. There were many surges where I had to dig deep to pass a group of guys or to accelerate to stay with someone that I felt was riding strong. Some guys would pass me right back only to slow down forcing me to squeeze on my brakes to get out of the draft zone. I would then have to collect myself to make another pass. This made it hard to keep a good rhythm but overall, I felt really strong and also felt like I could finally push the bike, stay on top of my pedal stroke and not force the effort. At the end of the bike I was in a really good headspace to hit the run (my favorite part of triathlon racing). 





13.1 mile run



Photo Nicole Rambsey
I tried to make my transition as quick as possible so I was putting on my watch, visor and glasses as I was walking and then started to jog. I knew the competition was tough here so I didn't want to lose any extra time in the transition area. My friend Chris M. shouted to me that I was in 3rd place in my AG so that made me happy. Immediately, I found my running legs and felt like I had a good stride. I was willing to push the run as my run form and fitness has been really good lately but my right leg was giving me some trouble during this race - for all 13.1 miles. Although it was not noticeable to an outsider, my right leg felt weak and unstable. This is not anything new for me as it's something that I often deal with. Typically I can get it to stiffen up with a few tricks of stretching my back and popping my hips but this time around, it felt a bit different. I contribute it to my hormones loosening up my joints so I just accepted that it would be something I would have to race with but it wasn't going to slow me down. So with my right leg feeling like a wet noodle, I just couldn't run any harder/faster as I was using a lot of mental energy to keep good form. I'm not concerned about this as it was just a bad-timing issue. I also blame my shoe choice (4% Nike) as I feel with the layout of this course, using so much water to keep myself cool and the shoes already being a bit unstable, the shoes were not a good choice for me for this race. The inner in my right shoe was also moving which made the shoe feel really loose. Just a bit of background info as no race is ever easy or perfect - there's always something to deal with and it's usually something that you don't plan for or expect.

On a good note, I never had any low moments and I really enjoyed the course. I was passed by a few girls and I was able to stay with one or two of them for a few miles at a time. I was a bit discouraged to hear I moved to 4th in my age group in the 2nd loop so my mission for the next 6 miles was to get on that podium! I do feel that I had a sub 1:40 in me for this race but I had to deal with the cards I was given. I wasn't able to work the uphills like I usually do but I really tried to push it on the downhills and any section that was shaded. I took two quick reset breaks to try to fix my leg but it didn't help much. I pushed the last mile as I was running next to another girl and Karel was cheering for me with less than 1/2 mile to go (he had already finished). I sprinted as hard as a could - ouch that was painful - to the finish line.

I was thankful for no GI issues, bonking or low moments. I never felt too hot so I feel my choice of a cooling towel and visor worked well. Since I always bring my own nutrition with me when I race (in my Naked Run belt), I could use the aid stations for ice/water and fuel whenever I wanted to on the course.

Karel's recap:



Photo Nicole Rambsey

In T2 I racked my bike, put my socks on and then my Nike 4% shoes. I stepped into my race belt with bib number and grabbed my flasks which I kept in my kit pockets. I also had my sunglasses and hat in my hands as I was running through the transition. Since I like to hold something when I run, I held an Enervitine Cheerpack in my hand.

The only thing I can say about this run is wow. This was one of those runs that don't come very often for me. I felt great from the first step and actually felt like I was running faster/stronger as the race went on. It was hot and humid out but I never felt bothered by the heat. I ran happy and enjoyed seeing some of my athletes out on the course. I gave myself a bit of a boost when I could see that I'm running faster than anyone around me - this was giving me more and more strength and energy. At the end of the first lap my friend Chris told me I was 1st AG with about a minute lead. Hearing this gave me more energy. I kept running strong as I didn't know if some fast runner started way behind me in the swim. At one point I was passed by two pro males and I thought I could try to pace behind them on the bridge. Ha - that lasted about 400 meters! This run went by super fast and before I knew it I was running down the finish shoot. Finishing this race knowing that I gave all I had on the day and I felt so good from start to finish was a great feeling. I can't believe I won my age group and was 7th overall amateur. This was a great race as my 3rd 70.3 in 5 weeks. 


Post race:
After the race, I found Karel and we chatted about our day. I grabbed two slices of pizza and some pretzels and then walked to our team tent to cheer for and wait for the rest of our athletes. Karel went back to the townhome to rescue Campy (and to shower/eat) and I stayed at the venue for the rest of the race. Karel and I stayed until every one of our athletes crossed the finish line. It was so much fun to hang out with our athletes and to hear about their races.

As our last planned 70.3 of the 2019 season, we are feeling healthy, fit and strong and we are both excited to train for our last two races of the season..... Ironman Canada (in 9 weeks) and Ironman World Championship (in 20 weeks). 

Thanks for the cheers and a big thank you to the 2019 Trimarni team affiliates and supporters!
It was so great to see so many familiar athletes on the course, some of my nutrition athletes and thank you to the amazing volunteers! 




Gear and Sport Nutrition Race Recap coming soon.

5/21/19

IM 70.3 Chattanooga - Quick Recap


I remember a time not too long ago in my triathlon journey when my love for training outweighed my love for racing. Sure, race day was something I always looked forward to but with every race came expectations, pressure, competition and worry about the unknowns. Race day was stressful whereas there was nothing to worry about when I trained - as no one was watching.

Over the years, I've studied Karel and his love for racing. He loves to race. If he could, he would race every weekend. I've noticed that he always displays a few special "race day" qualities. Applying these strategies to my own pre-race and race day thought processes has allowed me to love racing as much as I love training.

Here are a few takeaways of how to enjoy racing and to get the most out of your race experience:
  • Don't chase results, PR's or podiums. Race the competition - whoever shows up on race day. 
  • Preparation builds confidence. 
  • Rely more on RPE over metrics to race more proactively (instead of being reactive and robotic). 
  • You don't need to prove anything to yourself or to anyone else on race day. 
  • Accept that everyone has to race with/in the same conditions. 
  • Understand that something/everything won't go well/right on race day. 
  • Don't waste energy on things out of your control. 
  • Focus on your own pre-race routine. Stay away from people who suck away your energy (including forums/blogs/social media).
  • Don't race with expectations or outcome focused goals. 
  • Always decide on the best tool for the job. It's good to have a plan but you also need to know how to adjust. 
  • Your mind should be as strong as your body.
  • Don't be afraid to fail.
  • Something good can come from every race. 
  • Don't race another athletes's race. 
  • Don't race with an ego, race for the joy of racing. 
  • Stay humble and confident. 
  • Know that you are always a work in progress. 
  • Don't let one race define you or your season. 
  • Avoid putting too much energy into one race day performance. 
  • Reflect on your race in a productive way so you learn from each race. 
IM 70.3 Chattanooga was a first-time event for me and Karel. Although we've raced in Chattanooga in the past, this course was something new for us to conquer. We really love the city and the community loves to welcome this event. The volunteers are incredible.

The competition was stiff, the weather was warm and the swim was shortened. Karel put together an incredible race where he felt strong all day - and got stronger as the day went on. Just two weeks after IM 70.3 St. George and 5 weeks after IM 70.3 Haines City, Karel's strategy of racing himself into great fitness (on top of some great quality training in between) proved to - once again- work really well for him. I placed 4th in my age group. There were so many strong girls in my age group and I knew it would be tough to get on the podium at this race. While I could be disappointed with my placement, I am not. I felt incredibly strong for all 70.3 miles. Even when I heard from a friend that I was in 4th AG, I didn't stop smiling as I felt like I was winning my own race. I am far from upset as I put together the best race that I could on the day.


We had 29 Trimarni athletes on the race course and it was so much fun to share the course (and race experience) with them all. I just love racing with our athletes. And....thee Trimarni coaching and nutrition team placed 3rd Tri Club!! Way to go team!!

As a takeaway from our race, it's totally normal to be disappointed after a race. Those "perfect" races don't come very often so it's expected that there's going to be a learning experience, highs and lows from every race. Most importantly, make sure your race day goals (or expectations) are for the right reasons. We all love to celebrate PR's and podiums, but most importantly, race for the happiness and joy that is racing brings to you. Racing should always give you a great sense of personal accomplishment. No matter what, be thankful and grateful for your healthy mind and body. It's a gift to be able to do what you/we can do with our bodies.



Race Results

Marni - 4th AG (35-39), 10th overall amateur female


.75 mile swim: 14:52 (1st AG, 5th fastest female)
T1: 4:01
56 mile bike: 2:31.03 (4th AG, 10th fastest female)
T2: 2:48
13.1 mile run: 1:40.10 (6th AG, 18th fastest female)
Total: 4:32.53

Karel - 1st AG (40-44), 7th overall amateur male)

.75 mile swim: 15:17 (6th AG)
T1: 3:13
56 mile bike: 2:21.33 (5th AG, 27th fastest male)
T2: 2:21
13.1 mile run: 1:22.12 (1st AG, 3rd fastest male, 4th overall)
Total: 4:04.34

5/16/19

How to avoid GI issues on race day

Photo by Deuce Bradshaw.

Unwanted in training and competition, GI issues frequently impair performance and recovery. The three main causes of GI symptoms include physiological (reduced blood flow to the gut), mechanical (bouncing/jumping) or nutritional (diet/sport nutrition). For example, during exercise, blood flow to the digestive system is impaired so the stomach may reject ingested food or fluids, sending them out of the body - either up or down.

Common upper and lower GI issues include:


UPPER GI ISSUES
LOWER GI ISSUES
Nausea
Intestinal cramping
Vomiting
Side stitch
Stomach pain/cramps
Gas
Bloating
Loose stools/diarrhea
Belching
Intestinal bleeding
Heartburn/reflux
Urgency to defecate

Severity differs depending on the athlete and sport.

For example, the high-impact nature of running may jostle the gastric system, contributing to lower GI issues. In cycling, posture on the bike may increase pressure on the abdomen causing upper GI issues. Among swimmers, swallowing air from short and rapid breathing may cause belching.

Additionally, using a straw-based hydration system or gulping fluids (especially carbonated drinks) may cause aerophagia – which is a condition of excessive air swallowing, contributing to GI issues.

To reduce the risk of GI issues during exercise, follow these practical guidelines:

  • ·     If you get gassy with dairy and fructose, consider a lactose or dairy-free alternative and avoid grapes, apples, asparagus, melon and juices when gut flow may be compromised (ex. high-intensity training, competition day).
  •       Reduce/avoid high-fiber food such as cruciferous veggies and high-fiber cereals/grains and replace with potatoes and plain breads in the 4-24 hours before intense or long duration activity.
  •       Avoid high-fructose foods such as soda, candy and juice, as well as carbonated drinks around workouts/competition.
  •       Stay well-hydrated before, during and after exercise. Dehydration can exacerbate GI symptoms. Drink frequently in smaller amounts on a schedule throughout your race instead of big gulps randomly occurring when you feel overly thirsty to reduce the risk of a sloshy stomach.
  •       Allow 4-6 weeks to train your gut to improve intestinal absorption with ingested foods and fluids. Don't wait until race week to try out your race day nutrition plan. Consider the formulation of your sport nutrition products to ensure optimal digestion and absorption. In other words, don't concentrate your products.
  •      Trial and error to figure out what works/doesn’t work before and during training/competition. Keep your pre race and race day fueling and hydration plan simple so it's easy to execute under pressure/nerves/stress.
  •       NSAIDs and aspirin are associated with an increased risk of GI complications, mucosal bleeding and ulcers. Avoid as much as possible, and avoid before and on competition day.
  •      Stay calm and relaxed. Stress can exacerbate GI issues.