Essential Sports Nutrition

7/13/18

7 triathlon nutrition myths and misconceptions



Within every sport, there are "must try" nutrition strategies for athletic success. While some are effective, most are extreme, unhealthy, unrealistic and unsuccessful.

In the sport of triathlon, combining three sports together can be challenging. The longer the distance, it becomes more difficult to master the art of fueling to delay fatigue and optimize hydration while minimizing GI issues. There's also the mindset that a lean body will outperform a body that is "overfat" because less is best when it comes to body weight. Sadly, more and more athletes are using extreme endurance training in an effort to achieve a certain body image over attempting to improve performance. Therefore, triathletes will often gravitate toward any style of eating that provides food control and helps take away the guessing of what to (and not to) eat in order to improve the odds of race day success.

To help with the dietary confusion and to ensure that your health isn't compromised in route to your upcoming event, Carrie Barrett reached out to me to hear my input on a few common nutrition myths and misconceptions in the sport of triathlon. Because these nutrition myths are found in many sports, all athletes and fitness enthusiasts should take the time to read this great article that Carrie put together. 



7 triathlon nutrition myths and misconceptions

7/11/18

Ironman Austria '18 Race Report - 26.2 mile marathon



I was really hoping to write a run race report about a stellar run but that’s not the case. Another marathon run off the bike where I felt like I ran far below my potential. However, this is racing. If it was easy to improve, I probably wouldn’t do this sport. My fire for a faster marathon run still burns strong and I know I’ll get it done in one of these races. Nevertheless, the most important part of Ironman racing is managing what’s given to you on race day. A strong mind can power a tired body.
If I gave up every time an Ironman was hard, I would not have 13 Ironman finishes behind my name. I was given a very tough marathon run to tackle, with an empty mind and body. While the marathon fatigue is normal and expected, I just didn’t imagine it would hit me so hard and so early in the marathon. While I wanted to quit so badly as the fatigue and empty feeling was so intense that I thought there was no way that I could finish, somehow, I found deep inner strength and a soft voice in my head that helped me fight until the finish. It was a tough fight and one I hope to never have to repeat again but I’m happy that I never gave up and even on a bad run day, I was still able to put together a strong race and land on the podium in a strong, competitive international field.

After just a few minutes, my legs responded well to running off the bike which was such a relief. With every Ironman, it’s always a big question mark as to how the legs will feel running off the bike. I’ve had Ironmans where the first step was painful and then other races, when I felt like I was floating off the bike with no effort. I was really looking forward to the crowds so once I got about a mile into the course, I felt a lift of energy from the cheers. With the aid stations spaced out every 1.5K, I focused on breaking down the race one aid station to the next. Within each aid station I was focused on my form, rhythm and fueling from my hydration belt.

The first few miles went by fairly quickly. I found a good rhythm and I was holding a steady but sustainable pace. As I started running toward the town of Krumpendorf and received my lap one bracelt, I saw Karel and he didn’t look too speedy. He even cheered for me which he rarely does when he is racing. I was happy to see him and I gave him a smile. I was happy that my stomach felt good and I wasn’t worried about nutrition issues as the first few miles usually give me signs of how nutrition will sit for the marathon run and I wasn’t getting signs any signs that my tummy would be off during the race which was good.

The first two miles of the course really suit me as the terrain changes from the sidewalk trail to packed sand to cobbles/wood and then back to the trail and then sand again. I also loved the new addition to the course where we literally ran next to the finish line (but in the opposite direction) and the noise was intense from the fans – what a boost in energy! But then, around mile 3 or so, we just run on the road and a path and to be honest, my mind doesn’t really like the section in Krumpendorf as it feels really long to me. So I just focused on making my way around the town so that I could get greeted by the loud crowds again. I will say, however, there are spectators everywhere on this course so you never feel lonely. Once I got back to the “hot spot” it hit me hard – really hard. My body suddenly felt empty and I had no energy in me. I have never had this feeling come to me so early in an Ironman and as hard as it hit me and all I could think was that I was super low in energy. At the moment, I didn’t feel bonky but I just had nothing left in me. Ugh, this is going to be a long marathon.

I kept up with my nutrition in my hydration belt between the aid stations and then tried some coke at the aid station. I stopped and walked through and took me time to try to get my energy up. It helped a bit and found myself running again, feeling a little better. At this time, my mind was struggling – part of me wanted to quit and get this horrible feeling over with and the other part of me was trying to tell me that I didn’t come this far to quit. This conversation in my head went on for several more miles as I made my way to the downtown section of Klagenfurt. I shut up the voices in my head when I got closer to downtown as I love this part of the course as it’s a quick out and back in the downtown and running on the cobblestones with spectators around eating and drinking is such a cool feeling. I even rang the bell which gives money to charity each time it is rung. I even liked the slight down/uphill (the only terrain change on the course) right before/after downtown as it was nice to change up the rhythm in my legs. Since I naturally do better running on hills, I strategically did more of my training on the Swamp Rabbit Trial which is flat, in prep for this race. But I know that my body prefers hills – and oddly enough, I am typically faster running hills than on the flats.

Because the course is marked in kilometers, I was finding myself not getting wrapped up in the miles completed or how many more miles are left to go. I just focused on one aid station at a time and tried to use those as my check marks to remind me that I was making ground on the course. I started to walk a bit longer at the aid stations and continued on with coke from the aid stations (along with water and sponges) and my fuel between the aid stations from my hydration belt. It was warming up just a bit and when the sun came out, it felt rather hot so the sponges were really helpful. I avoided running through hoses as I didn’t want my shoes to get wet so I used the sponges to keep me cool and I held on to them between the aid stations and got new cold ones at the next aid station. I spotted Karel once more, as well as my athletes Natalie and Justine and I’m sure I looked far from my normal self as all my energy (whatever was there) was focused on moving myself forward as I had little energy to give to anyone else. It was just one of those days where I didn’t want to be racing but I had to convince myself that I did want to be there – this took many many miles.

As I was nearing the end of the first loop, I thought to myself that there was no way that I could finish. But strangely, even as my body and mind were giving up, I kept moving forward. It’s almost like my mind knows that I am not a quitter and it was keeping me going even though my body had nothing left. The good thing was that my running form was still good and even though my walk breaks at the aid stations were longer, I was still running OK between the aid stations (considering how I was feeling).

There were times when I found a rhythm and had a bit more energy but it never lasted long. I just tried to hold on to that feeling as long as I could and when it went away, I just hoped for it to come back. After making a quick stop at special needs for two new flasks (pre-mixed with powder and water) before grabbing my wrist band for loop two of the course, I spotted Karel’s friend Roman from Czech who gave me the best and worst news possible.

“Marni you are in 1st age group and 2nd is 2 minutes behind you.”

While this information was great to hear and told me that I was leading my age group on a day when I wasn’t putting together the race I had hoped for, I now had to commit to the race for if I gave up, there would be no possibility that I could be on the podium……and all this pain would be for nothing. For anyone who has raced an Ironman and has been in this position, it can be very exhausting to know that you have to commit to being competitive all the way to the end. But I also know that the race is never over until the end and a lot can happen in the last few miles so even if you find yourself in a position that you feel is no longer competitive, never ever give up for you never know what will happen in the last few miles.

At this point, my sub 10-hour and 3:35 marathon goal was far out the window so I had a new goal – stay on the podium for my age group. In order to do this, I had to stay mentally and physically strong. I still wanted to quit and stop the pain that I was feeling in my body but to keep myself going, I started to make really small goals for myself. The first goal was to finish the loop in Krumpendorf. I continued to walk the aid stations and take care of myself but my only focus was on the next 6 miles. My mind wasn’t focused on how many miles I had ran or how many was left in the marathon but just one this one section of the race. Once I completed the loop, I felt like I had finished the race because my mission was accomplished.

OK, next goal was to get to the aid station under a bridge which is close to the downtown section of Klagenfurt. Around this time, I was passed by the girl in my age group who was 2 minutes behind me. Since we are not body marked at Ironman Austria, the bib numbers tell you what age group you are in (written out and by color). I didn’t attempt to chase her as she was running really strong and I didn’t want to do anything silly and potentially not finish (how funny – I made this assessment after wanting to quit for a good 10 miles!). I continued to focus on myself and I was OK with 2nd age group. But this kinda worried me as I didn’t know where 3rd was and how close she was to passing me. I thought to myself that I’ve come this far, I really want to stay on the podium. I no longer cared about my finishing time and didn’t look at my watch as my focus was on my nearest competition.

Once I got into Klagenfurt, I felt relieved. I can do this! It was the craziest feeling to suddenly have energy. It was like all of a sudden I had convinced myself that I could finish when I spent a good 2 hours trying to figure out how I would get to the finish line with an empty body. After leaving Klagenfurt for the last time, everything became “the last time” for me. Passing this aid station for the last time. Passing this KM marker for the last time. Passing this destination for the last time. This gave me a lot of energy and although I wasn’t running any faster, it sure felt easier. My legs were so tired and my body was empty but I was still able to keep good form, despite not being able to move forward very quickly. Nonetheless, I was still running and I was going to finish this race!

As I was nearing the last mile, I was so excited to be so close to the finish line. Still, a long way to go in an Iroman as anything can happen in those last 10 minutes. As I was getting closer to the finish line, I couldn’t believe that I saw the girl who blazed by me in my age group – she was suffering, very badly. I was shocked that I caught back up to her, even though I knew she would win our age group since she started behind me and there was no more room in the race to gain 2 minutes back from her. But at this point, my body had one more fight in it and I ran passed her and “sprinted” to the finish line. I had to be careful as my legs were exhausted and there were a few turns to negotiate in the last quarter mile but I was so happy to have overcome one exhausting IM marathon to finish on the podium. I even heard Karel and his mom cheering for me from behind a fence.

I zipped up my tri top and high-fived a few spectators as I was nearing the finish line. Oh what a relief to finally cross that finish line on the magical red carpet at Ironman Austria. Although I was ready for the pain to stop, I really tried to enjoy the finish line as I worked so hard to get there.




Once I crossed the finish line, I couldn’t believe the day I had and how bad I wanted to quit. Once I met up with Karel (and his mom who was so happy for us both – this was her first time watching a triathlon), he told me that he didn’t have the day he wanted either and it was a really tough day for him as well. He also said that he felt really low in energy and it just wasn’t good day for him. Although we were both bummed about our performances – which we felt didn’t reflect our current fitness – it was still a performance to be proud of for a finish is worth celebrating. Plus, I was able to stand on the podium at the awards ceremony (they only do top 3 at international races) and Karel placed 5th in his AG which is the highest he has ever placed here at Ironman Austria.


After taking a well-needed indoor shower in the athlete area (what a treat – a total highlight of the race!) and cleaning up (and enjoying ice cream and coffee from the local cafĂ©), Karel and I went back out to the course to cheer for our athletes/friends. Although a tough day for us all, I’m proud of my body for fighting this one out and it was special to share the course with Karel, his mom, Justine and Natalie.




When I was on the run, I told myself that I was done with Ironman racing. No more, never again. I had enough with this pain and I never wanted to experience it again. Ha!

Well, it only took about 24 hours for me to feel the itch to race again. Thankfully, I have Ironman Wisconsin on my race schedule (Ironman #14!) and I can’t wait to tackle one of my favorite courses for the 3rd time! Thank you body for letting me pursue my dreams and for letting me race for 140.6 miles! 


2018 Trimarni Supporters and Affiliates

We would like to send a BIG thank you to our Trimarni sponsors and affiliates for supporting the Trimarni team:
  • Run In - for helping us with our running gear/shoe needs
  • Mg12 - for helping our muscles stay relaxed
  • Clif Bar - for quality, organic ingredients in quality sport nutrition
  • Carborocket - for providing a quality bike and run nutrition in tasty flavors
  • Base nutrition - for making delicious bars and a variety of products to meet the needs of endurance athletes. And for being all around awesome. 
  • Veronica's Health Crunch - for the most delicious hand made crunch - ever!
  • Infinit - for customizable sport nutrition with safe and effective ingredients
  • Levelen - for helping athletes optimize our hydration needs through sweat testing
  • Hot Shot - for boosting neuromuscular performance and preventing muscle cramps
  • Solestar - for maximum stability, better power transmission
  • KLEAN for making quality products, tested to be clean and safe for athlete consumption.
  • Boco Gear - for helping us race in style
  • Canari - for the most comfortable, functional and stylish gear and for helping our athletes race in good-looking kits
  • Amrita bars - for making the most delicious tasting, high-quality plant-based protein and energy bars. 
  • Xterra - for the fastest, most comfortable wetsuit ever.
  • Alto cycling - for engineering the fastest race wheels
  • Swamp Rabbit Inn and Lodge - for keeping our campers happy with perfect lodging options
  • Ventum - for designing a cool-looking bike that has been backed by research and top-notch engineering. And for supporting athletes whe

7/9/18

Ironman Austria '18 Race Report - 112 mile bike


Since we rode one loop of the bike course on Wednesday afternoon on race week, it was nice having that recon ride fresh in my head going into race day. There was no part of the course that I was dreading as this bike course is fast but also includes a significant amount of climbing – around 5600 feet. I felt like I knew the course well enough to make tactical decisions when to push, hold back and where to take risks. With no rain predicted for race day (unlike the rain that we experienced the last two times in 2014 and 2016, although both were record breaking years), I was excited to show off my bike fitness on this course.

When I got on the bike after the swim, I enjoyed the short 90-degree turn with spectators lining the barricades. It was nice to hear all the cheers. The energy is so extreme in any Ironman but at Ironman Austria, it's really easy to get around for the spectators so the hot spots are super HOT with noise.

There was a short out and back section coming next so I used that section to settle into a rhythm and to find my cycling legs. Sadly, they didn’t respond well during that section so I gave my legs more time to wake-up before settling into my race day effort. Since I don’t race the bike with any metrics goals or guidelines, I can really stay in-tune with my body and adjust along the way. The first section of the bike is fairy flat and fast so the miles come quickly and fairly easily relative to what's to come later in the course. Surprisingly, I didn’t find myself stuck in groups of athletes so it was nice to just focus on my own effort. The rolling swim start really helps reduce the clutter of athletes/drafting that can occur on the early miles of a bike course, although in Europe, everyone seems to be a fast cyclist and the competition is fierce from the first swim stroke.

One of my favorite parts about this bike course is going through the many cute small towns. But I can't overlook the views.....those magnificent views that just get better and better as the course goes on! 



Because the course is essentially two loops (one small and one big - but the loops are located in Velden and not at T1/T2), it’s easy to break down the course mentally into sections and to focus on one section at a time. Each loop features one "big" climb but there are also other climbs to navigate along the way.

Although the weather was cool and it wasn’t extremely windy, it just didn’t feel like the fast day that we all thought it would be. The predicted high was only in the mid 70’s but I got warm at times on the course. I battled with a heavy feeling in my legs for the first hour of the bike and just when I thought my legs were opening up, I didn’t feel like I had the power to ride fast or strong. tried to stay calm and in the moment and just focused on what I could do well. I really took advantage of the descends but because of my small frame, I really have to work the downhills as much as possible – otherwise it’s wasted free speed for me. I also focused on my attitude, changing gears appropriately, nutrition and reminding myself that IM racing is a very long day of racing.

I often found myself with other male athletes as I was passing several women who were ahead of me from the swim. Nearing the end of the small loop, I didn’t feel that drafting was an issue as the groups that were together were small (5-7 athletes) and most were not drafting. While there were some groups that I saw ahead, I never found myself in one. Thankfully there were a lot of officials out there – and I felt like I had one by me for most of the ride on the first lap and even some of the 2nd lap. I made sure to ride a legal distance at all times and to be very strategic when passing the male athletes ahead of me so that I wouldn't get a penalty. I would often wait until I was on a climb or they were drinking or refilling a bottle to pass just to make sure that I didn’t have to expend more energy than needed to make the pass. I even had an official yell at a guy who passed me as I was trying to make a pass and then the athlete blocked me from continuing on with my pass. The ref was in my favor so that was nice to see them keeping things fair.

Nearing the big climb on the bigger loop, my legs slowly started to wake up. I felt like I had done a good job with my liquid nutrition but I also made an effort to nibble a little on my PB pretzel MOJO clif bar just to give a little substance in my belly throughout the race. I did notice that I was falling a little short on my liquid calories nearing the end of the first loop of the bike course which concerned me a little bit but I didn’t try to make up for it by overdoing it on fluids and end up with a sloshy stomach on the run.

Knowing the course (3rd time racing here) was extremely beneficial as I knew all the turns and descends which helped me ride confident but also manage my gears appropriately. Not looking at my overall time or speed, I had no way of knowing how I was doing on this day but the bike just felt slow compared to years past.

As I was nearing the end of the first loop, my first thought was “ugh, another loop” which is just not like me. I was feeling tired and not looking forward to another 2000+ feet of climbing, especially as it felt like it was getting a little more windy and warming up a bit. I guess it wasn't the best place to have a low moment - right before the transition area before heading out to another 2.5 hours of riding.

I received a great energy boost from the crowd when making the 90-degree turn outside of the transition area and I was looking forward to making a quick stop at special needs to get fresh new bottles of my INFINIT (already mixed in advance). I was around a good group of athletes going into the second lap which made me not want to stop at special needs but I couldn’t let that stop my strategy/plan for the day. Since I rode past special needs when starting my first loop I knew exactly where my bag was so I could roll up to it and stop real quick. The volunteer had my bag out when I stopped so it was a super quick stop to grab my bottles and get rolling again. I had thrown out my other bottles at the aid station so I only needed to remove one bottle from my cage when I got to special needs. I was again varied my flavors in my bottles to prevent taste bud fatigue. I had four different flavors on my bike so that no two hours had the same flavor. 

When I started going again I found myself riding by myself for a while which actually was a good thing as my legs finally started to come around and I felt so much stronger than in the first loop. I had passed one female professional and I saw I was nearing up to my friend Kelly Fillnow who was racing professional. When I got close to her, she told me that she was having an off day and her mind wasn’t in it and I told her I felt the same way. It was actually really nice to be close to someone that I knew. Kelly is a super strong and positive athlete so I knew it just wasn’t her day but she was still so encouraging which was giving me great energy. She also told me that Karel passed her and he was riding really strong.

As for my other half - Karel actually had an ok day on the bike – not fast but he was happy that his back didn’t hurt and despite all the stressful experiences with his bike going into the race, he was just happy to be riding his bike. He also said that he rode most of the bike my himself – which is certainly a new trade-off for him as a faster swimmer. In the past he would be passing athletes due to his slower swim, which would give him a bit of a draft effect for the early part of the bike. Now, as a faster swimmer, he is riding near the front of he race with much more of a solo effort. I was bummed that I never saw Karel on the bike course so that was one of my motivations to get off the bike to see Karel.

I felt myself getting stronger as the bike went on although I found it to be really windy at times which meant I needed to really focus on good execution and riding my bike well. I continued to find myself around male athletes and ended up not seeing another female until a speedy girl passed me with about 15 or 20K to go in the entire bike ride. She was riding super strong and there was no way I could attempt to ride with her. Although I wasn't close to having the fastest amateur female bike split of the day, I was only passed by one female which was encouraging and it wasn't until the last 30 minutes or so of the bike ride.

I was so happy that I was finishing the bike feeling strong. I felt like I rode the climbs well, descended well and boy, what a big difference in mental and physical state compared to first loop. I guess it just shows you that the Ironman is full of up and downs and when you think you have no energy to give, the body wakes up and you suddenly have that energy you were missing. But then, the opposite occurs – you think you are in a good place and boom, all energy is gone. That's why we always say to enjoy the highs when they come because that just means that a low will be coming soon.

I did happen to switch the screen over on my bike computer before finishing the bike and I was shocked to see how I rode. I averaged only 0.1 mph slower this year than in 2016, and on a much tougher day (20.7 mph this year compared to 20.8mph in 2016).

As I was nearing the bike I was actually looking forward to the run. I have worked really hard on my running form and resilience this year and based on my workouts, I was in the best run shape of my life. I was thrilled that today was finally the day I could show off my hard work.

Nearing the end of the bike, I slipped my feet out of my shoes so I could keep my cycling shoes on my bike since I had a long way to run from my bike rack to the run gear bags. I decided to stop at the potty once again in T2 just to empty myself so that I didn’t have to worry about finding a bathroom on the run course just in case I had to go. Plus there were several available port-o-johns so it was a quick stop. It felt great to go and start the run with an empty stomach and bladder.

I quickly changed into my run gear and funny enough, left the run with Kelly. However, she quickly ran away from me as she is super speedy. My legs felt so-so starting the run (which is to be expected after biking 111 miles – not quite 112 but one mile longer than the last two times we raced here) but after a few minutes they woke up and I found my rhythm and I was ready to tackle this Ironman marathon.