Essential Sports Nutrition


Excel at the half ironman distance with these tips

On Saturday, I will be racing my 3rd half Ironman distance triathlon of 2017. And 5 weeks later, I'll be wrapping up my triathlon racing season with the Ironman 70.3 World Championship in Chattanooga, TN.

Although the distance has remained unchanged, athletes are covering the half ironman distance much faster/quicker than ever before. While the distance is not as long as that of an Ironman, I still respect the distance as covering 70.3 miles with the human body is no easy feat.

The half Ironman distance requires a lot of preparation. You must be committed to the training for there is no fake it until you make it or wing-it on race day. The training prepares you physically, mentally, emotionally and nutritionally as race day requires great skill, self-management and confidence.

Seeing that many athletes define athletic success as 1) A finish 2) Improvement in time, the true success in a half Ironman event comes from being great at not slowing down. Understanding that every race will be different, it is important to not go into the race with expectations or outcome goals but instead, embrace the challenge of overcoming obstacles, staying present and doing things well for 70.3 miles. 

As it relates to the race itself, here are a few of our suggestions as to how you can respect the half Ironman distance and excel on race day.

  • Training - sharpen, don't rest. While too much intensity can keep you from saving your best effort for race day, doing too little will leave you flat, stale and lethargic come race day. 
  • Making the week about your race - minimize stressors as much as possible
  • Mental focus/visualization - rehearse all scenarios
  • Sleep - with reduced training, don't compromise your sleep
  • Travel - arrive early so you are not rushed
  • Review course – don’t just focus on the weather, or one section of the course, or your competition

  • Pre-race meal – must be well-practiced. Don't just focus on the calories consumed but your food choices must work (ex. control blood sugar, keep you satisfied, digest easily, give you energy, etc.)
  • Arrive early to the race venue so you aren't rushed (suggest 90 min - 2 hours prior to your race start)
  • Routine - reduce nerves and anxieties by having a routine for yourself at the race venue
  • Warm-up - never ever neglect/skip your warm-up (on land and in the water)
  • Confidence - don't compare yourself to other athletes or think back to what you should have done better/more of. Believe in yourself. 
  • Trust yourself - no matter how you felt on race week, trust that your body will know what to do once you start the race

  • 80% - don't go out too hard. If you focus on swimming 75-80% effort for the entire swim, you will swim your "fastest" effort with good mechanics, without slowing down to fatigue
  • Sight often - don't trust the feet of another athlete to keep you on course. Sight every 5-7 strokes (practice this in training so that it is familiar on race day)
  • Stay on course - focus on the turn buoys to help you complete the shortest distance possible. 

  • Rehearse  - have a routine as to how you will transition from swim to bike, prior to exiting the swim
  • Stay calm - your highest heart rate of the race will likely be in T1. Try to lower the HR in transition and during the first 5-10 minutes on your bike
  • Make it quick and efficient - this is free speed. You don't have to be an elite athlete to have a fast transition. 
  • Understand your transition area - to avoid the chaos, anxiety and stress that occurs in transition, understand all of the specifics of your transition area so you can get in and out as quick as possible. Nothing good happens in the transition area 😏


While pacing is important throughout your entire race, pacing on the bike is more important than you may think. There is great cost from going anaerobic or pushing too hard for even just a few minutes. While it's easy to have the mindset of "going hard" on the bike in order to gain time after a slow swim or to produce a faster bike split (or faster overall time), going too hard on the bike will fatigue your legs and will not give you the strength that you need to run as fast/well as you are capable of. Seeing that you will feel super strong and fast when you start the bike (thanks to taper), don't crush your personal best 20-minute time in the first 20 miles of the bike. The most important thing to remember is that you need to pace and fuel/hydration on the bike, in an effort to deliver yourself to the run, where you can then run well.
  • Understand your course - proper execution comes down to terrain management and understanding the details of your course.
  • Ride your bike well - being aero, sitting up and getting out of the saddle, along with varying your cadence are effective strategies to efficiently strong biking, which will also help you run well off the bike. 
  • Ride sustainably strong - ride as fast as possible with the least amount of work. There's no prize to crushing the bike and then suffering on the run. 
  • Fueling and hydration – this is a non-negotiable. If you can't fuel/hydrate for a given effort on the bike, don't expect to run well off the bike. Practice your nutrition in training so you have confidence with an easy-to-execute plan that will work on race day.
  • Race your own race - don't get caught-up in the pacing/racing plan of another athlete. Focus on yourself.
  • Stay in the moment - you will have highs and lows. Focus on the present moment and take care of yourself. 
  • Don’t chase metrics - racing is dynamic. You will perform your best if you listen to your body and adjust as you go. 

  • Make it quick and efficient - ease up in the last few minutes of the bike and rehearse your transition prior to dismounting the bike. 
  • Walk and move out of transition - your run time does not start until you hit the timing mat outside of the transition area. Walk as you put on your hat, sunglasses, race belt, hydration belt, etc. 


This is where most triathletes validate how well or not well the race went. This is also the most dreaded, fearful and unknown part of the triathlon for many triathletes. Break the habit of always fearing the run. You must be confident going into your upcoming half Ironman. Hopefully your training has prepared you for the mechanical fatigue that you will experience on the run and you are familiar with not feeling good for a few miles when running off the bike, but eventually, that feeling does go away and you should be able to find your rhythm.
  • Forget the metrics - When you run well, you will not only enjoy the run but you will be able to do more with your body throughout all 13.1 miles. Don't chase a pace! 
  • Good form under fatigue - when you start to get really mentally and physically tired (around miles 7-13), focus on keeping good form and running with ease. 
  • Understand the layout of your course - not only will this help with pacing/execution but it will help with recognizing where the high and low moments may occur. 
  • Always listen to your body - take care of problems immediately when they happen. The goal is always to be able to restart running again so when there is a problem, address it quickly in order to get back to running. 
  • Stay up on nutrition/hydration – this is a non-negotionable and why you MUST practice nutrition in training, over and over and over and over again. 
  • Dig deep at the end – there's no benefit of digging deep and being mentally tough in the first 3 miles, if you resort to walking the last 10. Pace your own race and when you get to mile 10-12, you can then start pulling out your mental skills to help you dig deep until the finish. 
  • Walking is ok! - walk with a purpose. Walking is not failing, it is designed to help you run better between walking. No need to have a walk/run plan but walk before you really need to walk in order to reset form and to control breathing or to take in nutrition. 
While there are many tips to help you excel in the half Ironman distance, make sure you trust your training, stay in the moment, believe in yourself and be sure to thank your body. 


One-skillet egg and potato breakfast meal

If you are a breakfast lover, you probably scratch your head when you hear that some people just don't care for breakfast. For me and Karel, we couldn't imagine functioning, let alone surviving, the day without a morning meal after our early morning workout.

Although there is great research explaining the benefits of the morning meal, breakfast can be difficult for many reasons. While lack of time or appetite rank among the top two reasons why it can be a struggle to eat first thing in the morning, I find that many individuals suffer from breakfast burnout.

Every morning it's the same thing for breakfast; eggs and toast, oatmeal, nuts and fruit or a smoothie.
While your breakfast option may be working for you, overtime you feel less inspired and motivated by breakfast and you begin to not look forward to your morning meal. But despite needing a change, every breakfast recipe that you find on the internet appears too complicated and unappealing and thus you are back to eating your same-old boring breakfast options.

If you are looking for something easy, healthy and delicious to eat for your breakfast meal, I have the perfect creation for you. While it does require the use of a microwave for heating and refrigeration if cooking in advance, your taste buds will enjoy love the combination of ingredients in this meal. And the best part, all you need is one-skillet when prepping!


    One-skillet egg and potato breakfast meal

  • 1 package frozen spinach (thawed until soft)
  • 1 small container pre-washed sliced mushrooms
  • 1 small white onion - chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic - chopped
  • 3-4 small yukon gold potatoes (washed, microwaved until soft and cut into chunks)
  • 4 eggs
  • Salt, pepper, paprika, cumin - to taste
  • Olive oil - 1-3 tbsp
  • Optional: Cheese, sour cream and salsa for more flavor

  1. In a large deep skillet, pre-heat to low/medium. 
  2. Add 1 tbsp olive oil and chopped onions. Toss and cook for 3-5 minutes, until slightly brown.
  3. Reduce heat to low and add mushrooms. Toss until mushrooms become soft. 
  4. Add spinach and stir to combine. Add more olive oil if/when needed. 
  5. Add potatoes and season to taste. Add more olive oil if/when needed
  6. Crack eggs into skillet (no need for a bowl) and scramble once all of the eggs are in the skillet. Continue to scramble for 2-3 minutes. (If you would like to make a frittata, you would scramble until the eggs become evenly distributed over the potatoes/veggies and then cover with a lid until eggs begin to rise).
  7. Turn off heat. Top with cheese, salsa and sour cream before serving. 
  8. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. 


Overcoming exercise/training guilt

For many athletes, exercise guilt is a constant struggle. Exercising in order to improve your physical, mental and emotional health weighs heavy on your mind as you know it's something you should do on a daily basis, especially if you are training for an athletic event, but every day, you feel pulled in all different directions, with little time to devote to yourself.

Guilt is often a big barrier as it relates to making changes in your lifestyle. You either feel like you are doing the wrong thing(s) or you are failing at doing the right thing(s). No one likes to feel guilty as it can cause great physical and psychological pain, so why is it that so many athletes have such remorse when sticking to an exercise routine or when training for an athletic event?

I find that there are two reasons why athletes experience exercise guilt.

Athlete status - Many athletes struggle with the "athlete in training" status. Perhaps it's a new title that is not yet accepted by the spouse/family as your new training regime is unfamiliar and perhaps is more time consuming that your past exercise regime or you don't quite feel like you should be dedicating so much time, money and effort to a sport, especially when your sport is just a hobby or you are just getting started. If you found yourself saying "I'm too busy, I don't have enough time, I'm not disciplined, I don't have willpower, I don't look or eat like an athlete, I'm too slow" you will constantly feel like you are not meeting your own expectations of what you think an athlete should look like or how an athlete should perform/train. If you are in constantly feeling like a failure, because you can't meet your standard of "fitness", you will always feel guilty about the time that you dedicate to training as it won't feel worth it (especially if it comes at a cost, like not spending as much time with your family or at work, compared to what you think you should be spending). This is nonsense. Own up to your athlete status and enjoy your "me" time. You deserve time for yourself and you deserve to explore your boundaries of what you are capable of achieving with your body. Whether you are comparing yourself to someone else, a past version to yourself or thinking that you should be doing more/less, accept where you are right now and stop the negative self-talk. Your exercise routine doesn't have to be perfect. Integrating training into your busy life is not easy and it will never be easy but you deserve to dedicate time to improving yourself, as an athlete but most importantly, as a human being.

Exercise addict - Do you feel anxious when you miss a workout? Do you feel guilty if you take a day off or cut a workout short? On the opposite spectrum of exercise guilt, from the individual who feels like the training/exercise is not worth the time, money and energy and should be spending more time with family and work, there is the athlete out there who is addicted to exercise. When the mind experiences a constant conflict between what the body should look like and how it performs, you may find yourself preoccupied with the endorphin rush of exercise, as it is a vehicle to your food choices (what you can/can't eat) and it serves the purpose of assisting with body composition goals. This athlete is addicted to exercise and feels an extreme amount of guilt when fitness standards are not met.
When an athlete is dissatisfied with his/her body, a great amount of guilt can come from not working our or working out "enough" to meet exercising targets. This may lead into a food addiction, restrictive and radical eating and low self-esteem. If your goal is to achieve an image or a number on a scale, and you feel guilty every time you don't workout, it is important to make a shift in your workout routine so that you work toward health and performance goals, without exercise becoming an obsession.

Whereas one individual may not be comfortable with his/her "athlete status" and may feel guilty when time is spent exercising, there is another individual who is addicting to exercise and may be letting exercise/training run his/her life.

So what's an athlete to do?

There's no doubt that guilt can be complex. Sure, you have to put in the time to train for an event but you also have to spend your time, money and energy on other things in life. You will never live a guilt-free life as it relates to exercising/training and let's be honest, guilt can be a good thing when it keeps you grounded and keeps your priorities in place. But feeling guilty, every time you do or don't exercise, will not help you live a happy and healthy life. 

If guilt is leading to unproductive behavior, liked doing something you shouldn't do (ex. exercising on a rest day or going too hard on an easy day) or feeling guilty after the fact (like skipping a workout because you felt like you needed to spend more time at work or not be away from your child for 30 minutes), reframe the situation so that you can put things into perspective.

The rest or easy day is important in your training routine as it allows you to stay consistent and to recover from the harder sessions. 

You can still be a great parent and a great employee, even if you take time out of your day and schedule in a workout. If anything, you will feel more fresh, focused and relaxed after your workout is complete, thus being more productive with your job/family. 

Although it's easy to talk yourself into guilt, you can also talk yourself out of guilt. Most of the time, the guilty thoughts that we think, come from within but it's very easy for others to make you feel guilty for your choices. Take a moment and think about what has made you feel guilty over the past few days.

The next time you feel guilty about dedicating time to something that makes you feel healthy and happy or when you feel guilty for not doing more (or better), ask yourself if you are judging yourself too harshly and if what you are thinking is really as bad as you make it out to be.

Guilt from spending time on yourself and your own needs/goals is no way to live life. So if that means training for a marathon, an Ironman or partaking in some other adventure, go for it. If you don't take care of yourself, you won't be able to take care of others. Get in touch with your own needs and create an environment where you can become the person that you always wanted to be, as you help enrich the lives of those around you.


Nutritional needs for the older female athlete

Meet my nutrition athlete Christine. She is in the 70-74 year age group and she recently placed 1st in her age group at Ironman Lake Placid, in a time of 16:16.37. She was the oldest female finisher of the day and earned a slot to IM Kona (she declined the slot in order to focus on IM 70.3 WC).

Meet my nutrition athlete Stacey. She recently earned a spot to IM Kona at Ironman Switzerland by placing 3rd in the 55-59 age group in a time of 13:07.58.

These two inspiring ladies are among several older female athletes that I have the honor to work with on nutrition, along with several Trimarni coaching athletes who race in a 50+ age group category. Although it's easy to classify age based on when you were born (chronological age), these ladies, among many other female athletes, are showing us that sport can play a positive role in the aging process and that age is just a number. What can you do with your body at your age?

Although aging may negatively affect the physiology of the body relating to athletic performance, now more than ever, more older female adults are pursuing a sport as a way to exercise. Whether it's to improve health, maintain fitness, socialize or to stay competitive, consistent physical activity can offset some of the negative effects of aging, all while improving self confidence, psychological well-being, mood and reducing risk for disease.

Most athletes will experience a decrease in max power, max oxygen consumption, muscle strength, bone mass and flexibility/range of motion throughout the aging progress. While the statement of "use it or lose it" works for many, the aging body is not immune to illness, injury or other health setbacks which may prevent the older female athlete from maintaining a consistent exercise regime. Although there are many normal consequences of aging, a lifelong habit of exercise can certainly slow the aging process and improve quality of life.

As it relates to the nutritional needs for the older female athlete, we need to pay close attention to energy expenditure vs energy intake, macro and micronutrient needs and fluid intake, as well as the physiological changes that are occurring in the aging body as the diet and training will need to be tailored to each older female athlete.

However, I feel it's important to address a few of the other nutritional needs that should be discussed with the older female athlete to maximize performance all while keeping the body in good health. 
  • Food and drug interactions - The older female athlete my require the use of medications due to a chronic or temporary health condition. When determining the dietary needs and fueling regimes of the older female athlete, consider that diuretics (ex. blood pressure medications) may cause urinary losses of sodium, potassium and magnesium and NSAIDs may cause iron losses and kidney issues. Banned substances and other medications should be discussed with the older female athlete in order to optimize health without side effects (and fair play in sport).
  • Fluid needs - The older female athlete has less body water than the younger athlete. Thirst sensation decrease and the older kidney can not concentrate urine as well, which means more water is needed to remove waste. Less sweat is produced, especially if adequate hydration is not available. This brings challenges to dialing in sport nutrition needs during training/racing, especially in hot or humid conditions.
  • Daily diet - There are many reasons why an older female athlete may struggle to eat a well-balanced diet on a daily basis. Reasons may include, decreased appetite, caretaker responsibilities, increase fullness, eating alone, wanting to eat out in order to socialize, inability to purchase healthy food options, food aversions, digestion issues and constipation. It is important to take the time getting to know your athlete, so that you treat her as an individual and tailor the diet to her lifestyle and health needs.
  • Nutrient timing - Maximizing performance through the timing of nutrition is critical for all athletes. Seeing that the aging body may not respond to training stressors as well as the younger body, it is important to structure the daily diet so that nutrition is always consumed before and after workouts in order to reduce the stress response of exercise and to delay fatigue, while helping the body keep good form and focus. Additionally, the timing of nutrition (protein post workout) can help with tissue rejuvination which can help the older female athlete, who is at risk of losing bone/muscle throughout training. It is important to take a lot of time with the older female athlete, working on the daily diet and timing nutrition with training, as the foundation of great performances start with the daily diet.
  • Sport nutrition - The older female athlete requires carbohydrates, fluids and electrolytes similar to the younger athlete. Sport nutrition education is important when working with the older athlete as proper application of sport nutrition products will help with digestion and absorption, to delay fatigue and to optimize metabolic needs during training/racing. Depending on the sport and duration of the older female athlete, different sport nutrition products/strategies should be applied. Many older female athletes overconsume nutrition products during training in order to "get through" workouts and underconsume adequate energy (and nutrient dense foods) in the daily diet. It is critical to help the older female athlete structure her daily diet in a way that supports the current training load, prior to working on the application of sport nutrition.
  • Body image concerns - The older female athlete may suffer from body image concerns, similar to her younger counterparts. Therefore, it is important to de-emphasize weight and body composition, such as "you would perform better if you were leaner/lighter." It is important to promote healthy eating behaviors to the older female athlete as her focus should not only be on performance but also on disease prevention. The older female athlete should feel comfortable talking about her body image, food and weight concerns with a coach and sport RD, thus trust is extremely important.. Health and well-being should always be ahead of athletic performance. Because many older female athletes come from a era of fat-free foods and dieting, it is important to discuss the health consequences of disordered eating behaviors when applicable, even among the older adult population. Eating disorders affect females of all ages and there is no age discrimination for body image concerns. Many female athletes do not grow out of their struggles with food and the body. 
For the older female athlete, be mindful that the body becomes less resilient with age. There are more GI, cardiac, bone and muscle effects of training with an older body. Therefore, proper nutrition and fueling/hydration are critical to the body's ability to withstand training stressors, while keeping the body in good health.

Although sport participation provides general physical activity, it is also provides an opportunity to travel, make friends and to interact with like-minded individuals, of all ages. Competition is not just for young athletes. Sure, you may not be in your 20's but there's a good chance that you are now moving a lot faster than the people who you grew up with.

"Aging in not lost youth but a new stage of opportunity and strength."


2017 IM Lake Placid Race Report

"The only way to achieve the impossible is to believe it is possible."

I woke up to my alarm at 3:40am on Sunday morning. Since Karel and I prefer not to sleep in the same bed on the night before a race, I woke up Karel after I got myself out of bed (Campy refused to get up that early so he stayed snuggled under the covers).

There was not a lot of talking that morning as Karel likes to get into his zone on race day morning. I let Karel do his thing, which started with 2 cups French Press coffee (brought from home) and then a pre-race meal of a bowl of oatmeal and a glass of Infinit MUD mixed with cow's milk. He also took in 1/2 croissant with jam as we were heading out of the door. For the next 90 minutes, he sipped on a bottle of water mixed with Precision hydration 1500 and took in 1 enervit pre sport just before his swim warm-up.

Karel is not methodical with this pre race nutrition but this approach has never failed him. He simply eats what he wants and doesn't overthink it. After 8 Ironman finishes, he has yet to have a nutrition related issue before or on race day so we don't need to fix what's not broken. 

Before we left the house, Karel did his typical routine of heading outside for a brief 10-15 min jog to help get his system going.

It was a refreshing morning, not too cold but in the low 50's. The predicted temps were absolutely perfect with little chance for rain. After our 10 minute walk up the hill and to the oval, Karel got body marked and then proceeded into the transition area to set up his bike bottles. While Karel was attending to his gear, I walked up to the bike special needs (behind the oval) to drop off Karel's bag, with 2 filled sport nutrition bottles inside. 

With Karel being number 402, he had a perfect spot, right behind the sign. I then walked over to the run special need drop off, behind the lake, on the out and back section of the run course before getting back into town. In his run bag, he had three filled flasks and a Hot Shot.

In total (including special needs)
Bike: 5 bottles of sport nutrition (3 bottles Levelen 5, strawberry citrus and 2 bottles INFINIT Trimarni base phase fuel). 1 Kits organic bar (~3/4 bar). 1 Enervit Cheerpack. Hot Shot.
Run: 5 flasks (2 x Levelen, 2 x EFS Pro cucumber melon, 1 Enervit Cheerpack). Hot Shot. Coke/Red bull/water from aid stations. 

Since we Karel was in transition by 5:2am, Karel had plenty of time to relax before the swim practice opened at 6am. I found us a spot close to the water for Karel to get in the zone before getting on his wetsuit. I tried to stay out of his way but still be available if he needed anything. 

Karel is a big proponent of swimming before a triathlon as it helps him feel relaxed and less anxious in the water. Although his swimming skills/fitness have improved drastically since his first IM in Placid in 2013, he still needs a good swim warm-up to get a good feel of the water. Our Xterra Vengeance wetsuits are extremely comfortable and light, with little restriction and just the right amount of buoyancy during open water swimming. 

I stayed put by the water so that Karel could get a few more sips of his drink around 6:30am, before lining up in the corral before the start of the race at 6:40am.

To be honest, I was a bit worried and nervous for Karel because of his prior sickness but as competitive as Karel can be on race day, I also know that he is a very smart racer and does not race with an ego. Although he can push through pain, I just hoped that Karel could get to the finish line, safely, as this was his comeback race from 2015 (intentional DNF due to torn plantar going into the race) and to see what he could accomplish on this course, after 4 years of completing his first Ironman. 

Karel lined himself up in the back of the sub 1 hour group of the wave start. We are big fans of the wave start as it makes for a fast swim by surrounding yourself by swimmers of a similar ability, although Karel mentioned that there were several athletes who should not have been in that wave. Karel was ok with being in a faster group than his predicted 1:03ish swim time and he was able to get clean water for smooth swimming until the 2nd loop. 

Karel was able to see his swim split after the first 1.2 mile loop and he was shocked to see a PR of 29 minutes. This gave Karel a big confidence booster but he made sure to continue to stay in the moment and only focus on one leg of the Ironman at a time.

After the swim, Karel lapped his watch but didn't look at it as he wanted to forget about the swim and prepare his mind for the bike. Little did he know, at the time, that he had a huge PR of 1:01! I was so thrilled for him.

As Karel was swimming his second loop, I walked back to our house to rescue Campy (more like wake him up) as I waited for Karel and our other athletes (Chris, Michela, Heidi and Adam) to come by on the bike. 

I gave Karel a big cheer as he flew by me. I then waited for the rest of the Trimarnis to come by before heading inside for some food and a little rest before heading out on my bike. Campy had the best seat in the house! 

Thanks to the new Ironman tracker app, I was able to track Karel and all of our athletes. I was receiving updates throughout the first loop of the bike and after Karel left Wilmington, I got on my bike and road a few miles away to cheer for him and the other athletes on the course. 

Karel enjoyed the first loop as he had fun flying down to Keene. His legs felt good and he was able to ride well until he hit Wilmington. At that point, his legs started to get a bit crampy and even with Hot Shot (which likely saved him from full blown cramping), he had no power in his legs. At this point, his competition was riding by him and he was struggling.

For the climb up into town, Karel had to self manage. Even though Karel isn't metric focused when he races, he could see that he was not pushing the watts that he was capable of holding. He just focused on taking good care of himself with his nutrition and making sure that he could deliver himself to the run. Without focusing on the next mile, he stayed present and rode an effort that was manageable to minimize the cramping. Needless to say, Karel could have gotten very upset and frustrated but he kept his cool and just trusted that he could still run off the bike. 

While waiting for Karel, I saw a handful of age group men pass by and from the tracker app, I could see that Karel was moving down places on the bike. Although his weapon is the run, I knew he wasn't having a good day on the bike. But no use telling him what he already knows - instead, I told him how awesome he swam by shouting "Amazing swim - 1:01!!!" If anything, I hoped that this would register in his brain that even though he was not riding well, he still had a great swim and something to reflect all of his hard work in the pool.

After cheering for some familiar female faces, I rode back to our house, walked Campy around as the male pro's ran by and then headed up the road to wait for Karel. 

When Karel got off the bike, the tracker told me that he was in 6th place in his AG - not too shabby! Prior to the race, I told Karel that even on an off day, he could still podium. Because Karel was not taking a Kona slot at this race, his IM Lake Placid performance was all about himself and seeing what he was capable of doing on this very tough, yet beautiful, course. 

Karel was moving pretty fast when I saw him - it must have been his new #silenthunter New Balance 1400v5 shoes. The thing with the Ironman is that it's very easy to un-commit from the day, especially when things are not going your way. Although I know Karel all too well and he never ever counts himself out, I wanted to make sure that after a 5:19 bike (not too his standards), that he knew he was still in it to podium.

When I saw Karel, I immediately told him that he was in 6th place so that he knew he was close to the top of his age group. I then proceeded to tell him that the guys in front of him did not look fresh. Even though we were only less than a mile into the course, I wanted to give Karel a little boost that he had the ability to run down a few guys to move up in his age group. The Ironman is very mental and even when you are not having the day that you hoped for, you can still do something amazing with the body so long as you believe in yourself and never stop doubting your abilities. 

After Karel passed by, I cheered on some of the female athletes that I knew and then went back inside so that Campy could get a power nap before Karel came back through town again.

I had a great time tracking all of the athletes and the Ironman tracker app allowed me to follow all of the Trimarnis and know exactly where they were on the course.

With all of the excitement, I made sure to rest my legs a bit so that I could make it through the day because being an Ironman spectator is hard work! 

I waited for Karel on the big hill heading toward town and told him that he looked good. I never expected for Karel to talk back to me but he told me that "I don't feel good at all." I was really surprised to hear Karel tell me this so this told me that Karel was really hurting. I wasn't sure of the problem, was it the normal Ironman hurt or something more serious so I just cheered him on and told him to do the best that he could. Thankfully, Karel was keeping up with all of his nutrition and fluids and he was peeing throughout the day (a sign that he was well-hydrated) so nutritionally, he was energized but sadly, his muscles were not liking the all day exercising. Karel was unable to keep the rhythm that he felt was good in the first 9-10 miles and for the rest of the run, it was all mental.

Karel was in 4th place in his AG and battling with a lot of demons in his head and in his body. Although he could have been satisfied with 4th, I knew his European mindset would not be happy with 4th place as technically, 4th place is not "podium" per European standards. His legs were fatiguing with every step and his mind was telling him to shut it down and just lay in the grass and go to sleep. Karel let his thoughts rant through his brain until finally, he had no more  negative thoughts and he simply became numb inside - he put one foot in front of the other and told himself that all the pain will be over when he got to the finish line. Quitting, stopping or slowing down was not an answer.

As Karel ran out of town for his second loop, he looked great on the downhill. A big part of me wanted to believe that he was just hurting from the hill because let's be honest, who ever feels good on an uphill?? After Karel passed by, I stuck close to the tracker and saw that somewhere on River Road, he was getting closer to the 3rd place male. I could see that Karel was not slowing down as the 3rd place male was slowing down. Karel said that when he saw the guy ahead of him stopping at an aid station and grabbing his quads, Karel felt a burst of energy, proudly pumped out his chest and ran by him as if he was just starting the run. Of course, Karel had nothing left inside of him but that simple pass gave him a tiny ounce of energy to keep digging deep to the finish.

Once Karel passed mile 20, his legs started to buckle. Karel was forced to walk as he no longer could get his mind to work with his body. Karel is no stranger to walking as he doesn't view it as failing so he walked the big hill into town (being passed by older women running by him - Karel made note to tell me this :) and finally managed to dig deep for the last 2 miles to the finish. Oh how cruel to run uphill, see the finish and then run out of town for 2 more miles! I saw Karel around mile 24 as I was cheering with Trimarni athletes Ariel and Stephanie and I gave him a huge cheer as I could tell he was suffering so much and he was so ready to get the pain overwith at the finish.  

I made my way to the finish chute and I must say, it was rather quiet. According to the tracker, Karel was in the top 15 overall amateur males so the finish line was a bit empty, for each athlete to enjoy. 

I was so excited to finally see Karel and SO relieved that he made it to the finish line. After all that he went through going into this race, all that he suffered with during the race and all that he has been able to accomplish and overcome since his first Ironman, in Lake Placid, in 2013, I knew this finish meant a lot to him. 

Karel was able to fist pump across the finish line but not too long later, he collapsed into the arms of the volunteers (oh the volunteers - they are amazing!) and he was put into a wheelchair as he was rolled to the medical tent.

With this being the first time that Karel was in the medical tent, I wasn't sure what to think about the situation. Of course, my first thought was "I hope it isn't life threatening." I was standing with Ariel and Stephanie at the finish and told them to head back out on the course to cheer for the other athletes as I went to the athlete medical information booth just outside of the finish line area.

I was able to speak to one lady of the medical staff (who was so nice and attentive) as I waited outside of the transition area and after she checked on Karel (I had to give her his athlete number), she told me that he was not looking good and that he appeared to be dehydrated and he was not talking and he was unable to speak or open his eyes. For some reason, I was not freaking out. This is not like me as I am a very sensitive person and certainly, I care about Karel as he is my world. But for some reason, I felt in my heart that he was going to be ok.

As I sat outside of the transition area for a good 30+ minutes, waiting for the medical staff lady to give me more information, I was anxious to see Karel, to make sure that he was ok and to give him the news that he was 3rd in his AG. So long as his health wasn't compromised, I knew that he would be thrilled with his podium performance. 

Eventually, after over an hour of waiting outside for Karel, the lady told me that he was not dehydrated and didn't need an IV (he only lost 3 lbs from pre/post race). She told me he was just exhausted and he was finally able to talk and drink some chicken broth. He was still unable to stand up on his own as his blood pressure was a little wonky and his quads were not working but finally, she let me inside of the transition area to see Karel. Although they typically do not allow this, she said that I had been waiting for long enough and perhaps by Karel seeing me, she thought that this may help Karel.

After 11 Ironman's, I have never been inside a medical tent before and have never had an IV after a race so I wasn't sure what to expect inside of the tent. There was a lot going on inside the tent (even though there were not a lot of athletes in the tent at that point) and I finally made my way to Karel, who was sipping chicken broth from a straw in a cup and laying on a cot, with about 5 volunteer medical staff around him. After talking to Karel for a good 10 minutes or so (this is 60+ minutes after he finished), he finally felt like he could try to stand up. It took 3 people to help Karel up as his quads were buckling under him but he was finally able to put weight on his legs and hobble his way out of the medical tent. 

At this point, Karel was ready for some food in his belly. We walked over to the food area and Karel sat down in a chair as I got him some french fries from the food tent. Of course, me being the sport RD that I am, had a backpack full of post-race eats for Karel - a spicy ginger drink (which is in the above picture - no, it's not a beer - Karel gave up beer in January of this year and hasn't had one since), some candy and saltine crackers. Although Karel enjoyed the ginger drink, the salty/fatty fries hit the spot. 

It wasn't too long later that Karel finally started to look, talk and act more normal - although he was moving slow. He picked up his gear bags and bike and we made our way back to the house so that Karel could clean up so that we could cheer for the rest of the Trimarni athletes. 

Campy was so excited to see his daddy and Karel was also happy to get a few kisses from Campy. There's nothing like the unconditional love from a doggy. 

After cheering for the athletes for a little bit, Karel started to get a bit more hungry. Around 8pm, we walked across the street to Lisa G's (pet friendly outside on the patio) so that Karel could fill his empty belly. Karel really wanted a burger and soup, which both hit the spot. However, Karel could only manage to eat about 3 bites of his burger until he felt full. Don't worry, the burger didn't go to waste as Karel finished it off around 3am when the post-race insomnia hit him hard. 

After a restless night of sleeping for Karel (Campy and I slept great!), we made our way to the award ceremony. Karel couldn't believe that on a day when he felt empty (almost all day) that his mind would win over his body to give him a podium slot and a slot to Kona. 

Because we decided early on this year that Karel would race IM Chattanooga for IM Kona 2018, Karel let his slot roll down. 

The roll down slot could not have been more special as Karel's friend, from Czech Republic, earned his first slot to Kona. Roman finished 6th AG (40-44) and broke 10 hours for the very first time - after just starting the sport 3 years ago! This was also Roman's first trip to the US! Karel served as Roman's translator throughout the week and helped him register for Kona (by translating). Karel was thrilled that his friend Roman earned a slot to Kona. 

Not only do I want to give a HUGE congrats to the Trimarni athletes who finished Ironman Lake Placid (Heidi, Adam, Chris, Michela) but I also want to congratulate my long-time nutrition athlete Christine for placing 1st AG and earning a slot to Kona. 
I must mention that Christine worked hard on her nutrition (daily and sport) for the past few months so that she could complete IM Lake the oldest female finisher of the day in the 70-74 age group! Talk about an inspiration! 
Christine declined her slot to Kona so that she can focus on the IM 70.3 World Championship in September. 

Karel and I would like to say thank you for reading this race report and for all of the cheers/support via email, text, phone and social media. We appreciate the support and we hope that we can continue to inspire you to work hard and to never stop believing in yourself.

As Karel always says, "the only bad race is the one that you don't learn anything from." Karel learned a lot from this race and even though he told me in the medical tent that he "never wants to do another Ironman again" because he thinks he is just too old for this sport, he is recovering a bit more every day and he once again has a fire inside his body to work hard to see what he is capable of achieving before the day comes when he can no longer do what he can do with his body. 

A BIG thank you to our 
2017 Trimarni sponsors and affiliates:

-Run In - for helping us with all of our running needs
-New Wave Swim Buoy - for keeping us safe and seen in the open water
-Mg12 - for helping our muscles stay relaxed
-Clif Bar - for quality ingredients in quality sport nutrition
-Cheribundi - for providing a safe, natural and delicious way to reduce inflammation
-Veronica's Health Crunch - for the most delicious hand made crunch - ever!
-Infinit - for customizable sport nutrition
-Levelen - for helping us optimize our hydration needs through sweat testing
-Hot Shot - for keeping Karel cramp-free!
-Solestar - for maximum stability, better power transmission
-Boco Gear - for helping us race in style
-Canari - for the most comfortable, functional and stylish gear
-Xterra - for the fastest wetsuit ever (so fast, Karel is now beating me in the swim!)
-Alto cycling - for enginnering the fastest race wheels
-Swamp Rabbit Inn and Lodge - for keeping our campers happy with perfect lodging options
-Salem Anesthesia - for your Trimarni support