Essential Sports Nutrition


IM Kona '18: 1 day out!

Karel and I live together, train together and work together. But when it comes to racing, we both have a different strategy for feeling "race ready" in the 24 hours before a big event. Whereas I like to talk, watch funny videos/shows on the computer, laugh and socialize, Karel likes to hibernate with techno music, visualizing his race. Respecting Karel's pre-race rituals, I planned a long ride on Friday so that Karel could have time to himself, doing whatever he needed to do to relax without any distractions. 

As for my ride, I biked the course! Well, all but 6 miles in town. 

Whereas I've had an unfriendly relationship with this bike course for each of the four times that I have raced in the Ironman World Championship (2007, 2011, 2013, 2015), I wanted to cover the course (to Hawi and back) all by myself. 

And wow, the roads were rather empty from athletes! Although I did see a handful of athletes scattered over the Queen K and a few in Hawi, most (if not all) were not IM Kona racers. 

Since riding 100+ miles is a rarity for me and Karel (a combo of where we live and we do more higher intensity training versus long aerobic miles), I also looked forward to sharing 5+ hours with my body and mind. If I've learned anything about the IM Kona bike course it's that the weather is very unpredictable and you have to be physically fit but very mentally strong. 

To keep the ride structured instead of just going for a 100+ mile ride, I used the first 8 miles to the airport as a warm-up and then started my main set for the rest of the ride. I went 20 minutes "on" at Ironman effort followed by a 5 minute EZ spin. I continued this for the remainder of my ride (4+ hours), all the way back to town. 

The winds were not howling but it was hotter than hot. I felt like I was riding in a sauna - and this was even with a 7am start to my ride. 

I went through 8 bottles during my ride (5 with calories, 2 with "electrolytes" and 1 with plain water to use for cooling my head. I had a stop in Hawi at the gas station to refill my bottles. 

While a year is a long time away, I am getting more and more excited to return back to the Big Island in 2019 for the Ironman World Championship - as a participant. Whereas I turned down my slot last year at IM CHOO, I'm really glad that I took my slot at IMWI last month as I feel much more confident with my open water swimming abilities, my riding skills and my running form. This was a great season for me (training and racing) and I hope to build off this season....after I take a well deserved short off-season break near the end of the month. Next up I have the Hincapie Gran Fondo next Saturday. 

Maui off in the distance. 

While I didn't have any lows during the ride (this may have been because I didn't have to run a marathon off the bike), there were a few times when I found myself getting lazy with my pedal stroke. Having the set of 20 minutes ON and 5 minutes OFF helped as I could stay focus and then look forward to a little reset.

Aside from the cars/trucks on the road, the shoulder was pretty empty compared to the last few days. As someone who enjoys courses with lots of spectators (and loos), I also feel this ride was very valuable for me to be alone for so long with my own thoughts.

Stats from the ride:
Total ride time: 5:28.59
Total distance: 106 miles
Average speed: 19.4
Elevation gain: 3635
Normalized power: 143 watts
Average HR: 120
Average temp: 82 (Max temp 97!)

After I returned home, I wanted to see how my legs felt so I went for a quick 16 min run (1 mile out, 30 sec walk, 1 mile back) along Kuakini. I kept the pace comfortable and as usual, I wore my hydration belt. I was glad I had it for it was toasty! After cleaning up and eating, it wasn't too long later that Karel, his mom and I went down to bike check-in. Karel's slot for checking in his bike was 2:30-6pm so he waited until around 4pm to check in his bike. It was a very cloudy afternoon and as I write this now (7pm) it is pouring outside. Tomorrow should be an interesting day with the weather! 

As a spectator and fan of the sport, I really love this part of the Ironman World Championship. There are crowds of people, you can feel the nervous energy of the athletes and you can sense the excitement of dropping off the bike and gear bags with only one sleep to go until race day. 

The finish line arch and stage are coming together. It won't be too long until we get to witness the relief and joy by the athletes as they cross the most incredible finish line in the sport. 

As for the bike/gear bag check in procedure, first athletes will go under an arch (athletes only) and it's a big show for spectators and athletes. There's music, announcers and tons of volunteers. There are literally people just watching for hours as athletes check in their bikes. 

Once you enter the athlete-only area, there are a few booths where athletes with their respective bike gear/equipment will get some swag from the companies. For example, Karel got a Shimano hat because he has Shimano on his bike. It's a cool way for companies to say thank you to their customers. 

And then there are the counters. There are a good two dozen plus people counting all the bike specs to determine how many athletes have certain brands on their bike. These counters look at everything from bike components, wheel brands, saddle brands, power meters and so much more. The final tally typically circulates the internet a few days after IM Kona on various triathlon websites.

Next up, athletes get their picture taken. Well, actually the bike gets a photo. I believe this is for security reasons but there could be other reasons as well. 

Next is another wait in line before finally entering the transition area. 

With so many volunteers, from all of the world, it's really neat to see how many people come here just to help out with the event. 

The volunteer takes the gear bag and then the athlete walks to the gear bags to drop off the bags (Blue = Bike, Red = Run) and then place the bike in the floor rack. The helmet must go on the bike and cycling shoes can go inside the Bike bag or on the bike. Nothing can be on the floor next to the bike. The gear bags are also clear for security reasons. 

The transition area on the pier is huge. With 2500 athletes, everyone has to cover the same route to enter and leave the transition area for swim to bike and bike to run. 

After Karel was finished checking in his stuff, he did a quick video with Czech TV before heading back to the condo. The rest of the evening was "feet up, eat up." 

One more sleep and this is where it's all going to start (and finish) tomorrow morning! 

To follow the race, check out, Ironman Now on Facebook and the Ironman Tracker App. 
Karel is bib number 1322 (40-44 AG). 
I'll also be sharing pictures/updates on my Trimarni Facebook page tomorrow as often as I can. 
Thanks for the support! 


IM Kona '18: 2 & 3 days out

The past two days have been incredibly busy. I am not even racing and I have found myself with a packed schedule!

On Wednesday morning, Karel and I both ventured out for a run workout. Karel had a few 1K efforts followed by a 15 min IM effort. I gave myself a workout of 3 x 6 minutes with 1 min rest followed by a 15 min at IM effort just to spice it up. I'm noticing that I have acclimated to the heat over the past week as my breathing is much more controlled, I can run "faster" paces at a lower heart rate and overall, I don't feel like I am running through a blow torch. We both ran along Ali'i drive and as usual, the shoulders were packed with cyclists, walkers and runners. 

The nice thing about not racing is that I can deviate from my training anytime I want, which means stopping to take pictures, especially selfies with friends. This is my athlete Dana who lives in Greenville who is here spectating. It was fun to "run" into her along Ali'i drive. It's so funny how you can run into so many people that you know despite there being 2500 athletes and thousands of spectators and volunteers. 

Karel showing off his custom paint design to co-found Diaa Nour
After the run, we did a quick change into our bike gear as we wanted to join the 3rd Annual IM Kona ventum ride. Not only did we get to see so many Ventums (several with awesome custom paint jobs) but we were able to see the reveal of the NEW Ventum road bike. 

The group ride was led by Leanda Cave and there were also a few other Ventum professionals who were at the start of the ride, such as AJ Baucco, Kevin Collington and Lauren Brandon. 

The ride was an hour long and we rode up toward the airport (on the Queen K) and then turned off to take a picture inside the energy lab. For those who have raced/been here before, this is the "new" section of the energy lab run course to start/finish the section in the energy lab. 

Picture by Ventum Media crew. 
Check out this awesome video with a little cameo of my Pink Rocket.

I even got to chat/ride with Triathlon Taren.

After the ride, it was a very busy afternoon. After a well-needed meal, I got some work done before making a video with my contact at Levelen regarding sweat testing. If you missed the video, you can check it out on my Trimarni facebook page. As for my other half, Karel's Czech friends arrived on Tues evening and one of them had an issue with his bike. Karel was unable to help as he didn't have the right tool for the job but since his friends don't speak English, Karel went to Bike Works with them to help translate so that his friend could get his bike fixed. Karel also had a swim on the schedule but the pool didn't open until 3 (break from 1:30-3pm) so around 2pm, I made a quick trip up to the grocery store (Safeway) for a few more specialty food items that I couldn't find at Walmart (more like produce and fresh bread/croissants) before heading to the pool. We rode our bike to the pool around 3pm but we only had about an hour to swim as Karel had an interview with Czech TV at 4:30pm. I was invited to attend the Clif Bar BBQ which started at 4pm so I drove there around 5pm and stayed for about 40 minutes. As usual, the food was fresh, locally sourced and amazing.

The pool was packed and we even had a few pro sightings (Daniela Ryf, Tim O.). It got very chaotic when 6-8 of us were in the same lane circle swimming and each one of us was doing a different set, with different swimming abilities. Somehow we made it happen and Karel was able to get in his prescribed swim set.

600 warm-up
Pre set:
100 smooth
2 x 75 build
3 x 50's fast
4 x 25's very fast
100 smooth
100 build
100 smooth
50 fast
You continue to repeat the above but add a 50 each round to stop at 4 x 50's. 

After returning home from the Clif Bar house, I had a bit more to eat, we caught up with Breakfast With Bob, Talbot Cox videos and Ironman Now (on Facebook) before I fell asleep around 8:30pm. Karel met up with his Czech friend Roman soon after I fell asleep to get his Czech tshirt (designed for Czech IM Kona athletes) and a few sweet treats from Czech. Of course Karel can't do a race without his favorite treats! 

It's crazy to think it's already Thursday. The IM Kona athletes only have two more sleeps before race day! Karel slept in and had a solid 9+ hours of sleep. I was already out on the patio working on the computer and eating my pre-workout snack. After Karel had his espresso (or three) and his pre-workout snack, we walked down to "dig me beach" for an open water swim. Holy moly the ocean was packed! Not only were the construction crews setting up the finish line area but there were athletes everywhere. This was our first AM open water swim since Sat last week so it was nice to be back in the ocean - navigating our way around so many other athletes.

                                Group photo with our Ventum friends and co-owner Jimmy Seear.

After the swim, we walked back to our condo (about 5 min walk) to get ready for a bike ride. One of my favorite parts of IM Kona week is around this time and seeing the finish line area transform. The red carpet is yet to be laid but the finish line arch and backdrop screen and bleachers are getting set up. It's so exciting to see it all come together! 

For Karel's open water swim, he didn't want to overdo it in the ocean as sometimes his shoulder gets sore/tight so we swam 500 yards out to the coffee boat (Karel can always have one more cup of coffee) before heading back. Although the water super choppy/wavy and we needed to sight almost every stroke to avoid swimming into another athlete, Karel swam really well. I couldn't keep up! Then again, I didn't have a swimskin on (that's my excuse and I'm sticking with it). 

On our way back from the swim, we stopped by the Picky Bars booth and spun the wheel for a prize. Karel one a package of Picky Oats and I won a $25 gift card! Oddly enough, we ran into Jesse Thomas as we were walking up the stairs to our condo. Selfie time!

To avoid the stop and go/lights, we drove our bikes to the Energy Lab (new entrance) and parked so that the only light we would need to get through was the airport light. Then it was nonstop riding along the Queen K for the rest of our ride. Karel kept the ride fairly smooth but included a strong 15 min effort on the way back to town to wake up his legs. His hips were a little stiff to start but loosened up as the ride went on. 

Once again, I'm running into friends. This time in the middle of the Queen K! It was nice to catch up with my friend Emily who is a superstar athlete. 

After the ride, we drove back to town and I did a quick change before heading to the King K hotel to meet Marnie (how cool is that!) who is the Global athlete development director at Ironman. We chatted for a while, I shared my thoughts about helping to grow the sport of triathlon and she told me a bit more about some of the Ironman initiatives to help get more people into the sport of triathlon. 

I then made a quick stop in the merchandise tent to pick up a few requested items for Karel (for race day) before walking back to our condo. Once again, the island continues to transform as the buoys are getting ready to find their location in the water and the finish line area is getting more touches. 

Karel is feeling good. Tomorrow he will do his pre-race brick and then spend the rest of the day off his feet, visualizing and fueling up (with carbs) for the big dance on Saturday. I have a long ride planned in the morning so that Karel can do his own thing before he checks in his bike after 2:30pm. There's something really special about the entire IM Kona bike/gear bag check-in process.

I still remember the very first time I checked in my bike and gear bags for my first Kona back in 2007. 

First IM Kona in 2007 at the age of 25. 

I was so excited to be part of this historic and special event as an athlete and even today, I feel so lucky that I can be here as a spectathlete and to cheer on Karel. Who would have thought that back in 2011 when Karel spectated his first IM Kona (my 2nd IM World Championship) that he would be back here as an athlete for his third IM Kona?? He didn't even start the sport of triathlon until 2012, with his first IM in 2013!

How can this be seven years ago?!?!


IM Kona '18 - 4 & 5 days out

First things first. The ebook of my book Essential Sports Nutrition is now available for only $0.99!! Take advantage of this great deal as it's only for a limited time (until the 17th).

Now back to Kona happenings....

The streets are getting super busy. Along with a cruise ship rolling in on Monday, the majority of IM Kona athletes and volunteers have arrived to the island. 

Monday morning started bright and early with a 6:15am swim led by Matt Dixon with Purple Patch Fitness. Karel and I got in a bit earlier and I swam a bit extra for a total of around 4300 yards. Here's the workout:

Warm-up: ~1100
100 smooth, 25 fast
75 smooth, 25 fast
50 smooth, 25 fast
25 smooth, 25 fast
6 x 50's fast
200 smooth
4 x 50's fast
200 smooth
2 x 50's fast
200 smooth
Post set:
6 x 100's strong
300 EZ pull
(I think I'm forgetting something but that was what I remembered)

As we were leaving the pool to ride back to our condo, we bumped into Natscha Badmann who is a 6x Ironman World Champion! Although she is no She was one of my biggest inspirations when I started Ironman racing. I even took a picture with her back in 2007 for my first Kona!

Me and Natascha at my first IM Kona, 11 years ago at the age of 25!

Around lunchtime, we had lunch at Lava Java (they have a new location just a street over for those who haven't been to the island in a few years) with our friend and doctor, Dr. Cassas. Because Karel and I don't have a primary care doctor, we always reach out to Dr. Cassas with our questions. We are so lucky to have such a personable, smart and easy to reach doctor! Dr. Cassas is getting his learn on here in Kona at the Sport Medicine Conference. It was nice to catch up with a few of his colleagues over delicious food. I ordered the Vesterby veggie bowl and Karel got the Potts Poke Bowl. 

Just as we were finishing lunch, it started to drizzle. By the time we returned back to our condo, it was pouring. The rain lasted all afternoon. Karel had an easy 45 minute spin on his training schedule so we managed to spin our legs on the Queen K around 5:15pm. While the rain had stopped, a beautiful double rainbow showed up during the end of our ride. 

Another beautiful sunset to end Monday. 

Although Monday starts race week, I feel like Tues is the "official" start of race week as there's so much going on. First off, the ocean becomes more crowded and the coffee boat makes it's first run out for a mid-stop java while swimming in the ocean. 

Karel had a 90-minute ride on his schedule so I joined in and we ventured out to the Queen K and then took a side road down to the ocean in a State Park. It provided us with a nice 5-minute climb back to the Queen K for Karel to do a little hard effort to wake-up his legs. After the ride, Karel was done for the morning and I followed up the bike with a 30 minute run. The streets were pretty crowded with cyclists and runners and walkers and of course, the normal car traffic of locals and tourists. It seemed like the humidity was a bit lower on Tuesday as I could sweat much easier and I didn't feel like someone was blowing a blow torch on me as I was running. There was one tent set up on Ali'i drive (Gu) with free sport nutrition but I didn't need any as I had my fuel belt on with my hydration/sport drink (Carbo Rocket hydration for this run...I'm almost out of my Clif hydration).

Tuesday is also the first official day for athlete check-in (9am-2pm). All athletes must check-in by Thursday. Karel told me that the official athlete wrist bands did not arrive so Karel received a shiny red wrist band instead. He is welcome to go back and get his official wrist band when they arrive (hopefully tomorrow they said). As Karel was checking in at the King K hotel, Karel's mom and I went into the merchandise tent (one of three in the area) and waited for Karel. 

From my own personal experience of racing in the IM World Championship, I think the athlete check-in makes it feel very real and it brings a new level of excitement for those who are racing. Several people have asked me if I regretted turning down my Kona slot at IM Chatty last year when I won my age group and my answer is still no. I am not only happy that I could give my slot to another athlete but I feel like I needed a few years away from racing IM Kona to get even more experience racing the Ironman distance. Now that I have qualified for 2019, I am super excited to return back to the island next year as an athlete. Plus, I never thought I could handle the winds in Kona but now that I have my new Ventum, I feel so much more confident riding here that I actually look forward to racing in windy conditions. 

Karel got a huge backpack/duffel bag which was perfect to hold free swag as we made our way to the IM Village to check out the expo - which just opened today (Tuesday). 

So official! 

As I mentioned in a previous post, it's really awesome to see how the town transforms from a small town in Kona to the race venue of the Ironman World Championship. As a huge fan of the sport, I just love race week and the energy you feel as you are surrounded by so many like-minded individuals. 

Although the main athlete village/expo is across from the Farmers market on ali'i drive, there are actually a few different booth areas along Ali'i drive (all within walking distance - no need to drive anywhere). We checked out all the different booths as Karel loves seeing new bike products/gear. There have been several "new" bike gear/equipment items revealed this week. 

We made a stop at the Ventum booth so see our Ventum friends. No expo is complete without a hello from Rachel. By the way, if you are in Kona, make sure to stop by their booth to make your free support t-shirt! 

How cool are these shirts that you can design???

Also Ventum is holding a free no-drop ride at 8:45am from the Ventum booth on 10/10 (Wed morning) for anyone who would like to participate. The ride is about 15 miles and there will be some refreshments afterward. You can even test-ride a Ventum (first come)!! 

Because my triathlon season is complete and my only event left this season is the Hincapie Gran Fondo (80-miles) in two weeks, I'm making sure that no workout here feels like a chore. I don't feel the need to make myself workout so everything that I do is for fun, because I want to do it. In the afternoon, I decided to go for an ocean swim, just because. I didn't have a workout or a set but I just swam and stopped when I was done. I swam for around 15-minutes, back and forth from the shore to the first buoy. It was super duper wavy but I was having fun just swimming around and looking at the fishes. 

During this time, the kids Dip n' Dash event was going on and the streets were packed with fans. Wow, those kids are super competitive! It was so much fun to watch the kids (our future triathletes) in action. 

Karel's mom even came out to cheer for the kids. I spotted her in her new Ventum shirt (Karel made it for her) as I was walking back to the condo from my swim. 

As I was heading up to the condo, I ran into Karel as he was making his way to the King K for the Parade of Nations walk along Ali'i drive. Although Karel is now a US Citizen, he enjoyed walking with his home country, Czech Republic. 

Despite another rain shower, the fans and athletes came out with smiles and lots of cheers for the parade. Karel's mom enjoyed her walk with the other Czech athletes. It will be sad to see her head back to her home next weekend. 

It's remarkable how many people from so many different countries are here on the island. I think that's one of the many reasons why this event is so special. It truly brings together all athletes from around the world. 

A selfie in the rain.