Essential Sports Nutrition

10/11/19

IM Kona - one more sleep



First off, thank you for your continued support and encouragement. Karel and I are incredibly grateful for this incredible opportunity to participate together in the 2019 IM World Championship. We will also be sharing the course with three of our coached athletes. Your virtual high fives and kind words will help us get to the finish line so keep the cheers coming. If you are planning to watch the race, here's a link on how to watch the Ironman World Championship. There will be 20 hours of coverage on Facebook (Ironman Now), beginning at 10:30am EST (4:30am Hawaii Time). You can also track via the Ironman Tracker App or online. 

Thursday was a low key day of training. We have been trying to sleep as long as we need (~9 hours) so we are never rushed to get up and train in the morning. We started off with a quick 20 minute swim in the ocean around the time of the end of the underpants run. The pier/swim start was packed with athletes so it was a bit chaotic swimming out into the ocean. There were also some swells and the current was strong. After the swim, we were planning a bike ride but then it started to rain. We sat around in our cycling gear for a good hour until we decided to postpone our ride until the afternoon. Since it was cloudy out, we went down to the expo to chat with our friends at Ventum. Although the sun wasn't out, it was extremely humid and hot. Once the roads dried, we went out on our bikes for a 45 minute spin. We headed up Kuakini and then took a side street to Ali'i drive and then biked the old and new run course in town. After the ride, we picked up pizza from Lava Java (my typical pre-race ritual) and yummed while watching Breakfast with Bob interviews. Around 3pm, our athlete Roman came over so that Karel could give him a course talk in Czech before our other athletes arrived at 4pm for the English version. With a combined 9 times of racing IM Kona, Karel and I have learned a lot over the years. 




Around 6pm we made our way to the King K hotel for the athlete opening banquet. The athlete briefing didn't start until 830pm (which has been our bedtime) so it was a bit of a late evening for us. 




We made sure to sleep in as late as possible on Friday so it was nice to get up just before 7am. We took our time in the morning and eventually started our workouts. I did a quick swim and run and Karel went to the energy lab for a bike/run. 


I was super excited to finish my workout as a giant cinnamon roll from Lava Java was calling my name. Yum yum!!



As for the rest of today, we packed up our gear bags and we will be heading down to the excitement of checking in our bikes and gear bags - which is quite the spectacle. 


We are both feeling healthy, fit and strong. We are thankful for our coach Cait Snow for her continued support, encouragement and coaching wisdom and experience. Also a big thanks to the Trimarni affiliates and supporters.

With the weather looking to be hot and very windy, we will utilize our "race smarts" and try to put together the best performance possible on the day. Thanks again for following us along to the start line.....see ya at the finish line!  

10/9/19

IM Kona: All checked in!


Now that it's race week, the training volume has dramatically decreased whereas the craziness of the town has dramatically increased. Every day there is something to do, see and visit - but we are resisting the temptation. It's far too easy to see/do everything that is offered during IM Kona race week but with that comes lots of time on the feet and out in the hot sun.





As for training, on Monday we started our 80 minute ride from the energy lab. After a warm-up, we did 4 rounds of 20 sec burst and then 1:40 easy pedaling. Then after 6 minutes of easy spinning we did 2 rounds of 10 minutes at IM effort w/ 3 min EZ. Then cool down. It was a perfect set to wake-up the legs. After the ride, a quick and easy 20 minute run. I managed to keep an average heart rate of 130 bpm for the run.


In the early afternoon, we drove to the high school pool and did a 3000 yard workout. Luckily, the pool was not as crowded as last week so we were able to do our planned workout:
800 warm-up
2 rounds of 100 smooth/25 fast, 75 smooth/25 fast, 50 smooth/25 fast, 25 smooth/25 fast (continuous) with rest between the rounds. First round was with buoy and second was no toys. After that, 600 yard buoy and paddles. Then 3 x 200's broken as (2 x 100s, 4 x 50, 8 x 25). Then cool down.

Since we had two of our athlete with us (and a friend of a friend), we had to re-visit Gypsy Gelato again. Oh it was so good!



Tuesday was a recovery day or a day off. It's hard to do nothing here so our coach gave us the option of a spin or a swim. So we decided to do a 1000 yard swim with a 500 yard swim to the coffee boat in the ocean. They were out of coffee when we arrived to we had a few sips of Clif Hydration. The water is fairly cool, very salty and incredibly clear. There were so many fishies to look at underneath us.



As for the rest of Tuesday, we checked in and picked up our gear bags/swag. It's quite the process to check in at the Ironman World Championship as there is a series of tables to visit and lots of volunteers helping out. The guy who helped me out was participating in his 15th Ironman Kona and his 53rd Ironman! And he is in Karel's 40-44 age group! He was super nice.





After checking in, we walked through the merch tent and then went to the expo. The IM Kona expo is overwhelming with so many booths, people and things to see. We spent about 30 minutes in the expo and by the time we were done, we were hot and sweaty - it's super duper hot here! It was nice to see some familiar faces and to say hello to some of the Trimarni team affiliates.









Karel participated in the Parade of Nations - walking with his home country of Czech Republic. IM Kona is always special for Karel as he can connect with other Czech speaking athletes.



I can't believe that we are just a few days away from the 2019 Ironman World Championship. I am so excited to share the course with 3 of our athletes and of course, being able to share this race experience with Karel is extra special (this is our 2nd time racing IM Kona together - my last time racing the event was 2015 and it was with Karel). I am experiencing all types of emotions from excited, to nervous, to excited!


Oh and yesterday was Campy's 12 birthday!! Happy birthday to my furry best friend!! I couldn't imagine living life without you. <3


10/8/19

Don't make these Ironman race day mistakes


On Saturday, I'll be racing my 17th Ironman. It's also my 5th time racing at the Ironman World Championship.

When I completed my first Ironman distance triathlon at IMFL at the age of 24, I was very young, stubborn and naive. Over the past 13 years, I've had many race day successes, failures and lessons learned as a long-distance triathlete. With growth and development (athletically and personally), comes maturity and integrity. Many years of coaching triathletes has also taught me important lessons that can make or break a race day performance. Because your current fitness level can only take you so far, there are certain qualities that can separate you from your competition. The decisions that you make before and on race day have rewards and consequences. Since your race day performance outcome is built from many decisions, here are some common Ironman race day mistakes and how to avoid them before and on race day.

  • Body image - Sadly, we live in a society that focuses on competitive leanness. Many athletes are under the mindset that the leaner or more defined you are, the better you will perform in sport. Some athletes even care less about performance and more about achieving the "look" of an athlete. Rather than seeing the body as the vehicle that allows you to do the incredible in sport, many attempt to achieve a "race weight" through strict eating, fueling and dieting only to become injured, burnout or sick. Successful athletes come in all shapes and sizes. To be successful, you need to be healthy and strong. You need to be consistent with training and you need to take care of your mental health, just as much as your physical health. Restricting food, eliminating food groups or overexercising does not make you a better athlete. It makes you weaker and more fragile. Recognizing that there is no perfect body image (or level of body fatness) that is required for athletic success or optimal health, the way your body looks to perform or function at its best may not match up to the way you think you are supposed to look and this is ok.
  • Comparison - It's often said that comparison is the thief of joy. In other words, comparison is a big part of how we see ourselves - our self-worth. If you find yourself in a daily competition with the achievements, looks, results of others, it's time to direct your energy elsewhere. While you may envy over someone's highlight real, you never know what the behind-the-scene moments look like. You only have so much energy to spend before and race day - why waste it on others. Have less comparison to others and more compassion toward yourself. Although it is inspiring and motivating to see the success stories of others, do not let the triumphs of someone else trump your own personal accomplishments and achievements. Never stop believing in yourself and your own training.
  • Chasing an outcome - We can not control the future but you can control the current moment. Rather than putting all your energy into the results, focus on the present. Let's be honest - many times, life does not turn out how we expect it to. This can be good or bad.
    This isn't a negative way of thinking but don't let your race day success (or happiness) be tied with a specific outcome that you simply can't control or predict.
    Create success now. Learn to be happy with the effort, your decisions and your ability to bounce back from obstacles.
    Trust that with every best effort that you give in your process, you will experience small changes that will bring a favorable outcome. One of the most liberating experiences about racing is having no expectations about the outcome. This doesn't mean low expectations but no expectations. When you have expectations, you become attached to these preconceived outcomes of how things are expected to go. This can create fear and a tremendous amount of pressure. But as any athlete knows, racing is unpredictable. There is absolutely no way that you can expect certain things to happen in a certain way or in a certain time. Things "come up" on race day and you just can't plan for everything. Additionally, when you have expectations and big goals, it's easy to feel defeated and disappointed if you don't meet those goals. Racing is a reward in and of itself for it shows that you put in the work and got yourself to the start line of a race and hopefully, made it to the finish. The last thing you want is to beat yourself up for having a "bad" race because you were so heavily focused on the outcome. While big scary goals help us all get out of bed in the morning and train when there are many distractions in life, it's important to not get attached to an outcome when you are racing for the outcome will fall into place, in the right way, by simply remaining in the present moment and constantly taking care of what needs to happen during each mile of the race.
  • Rigidity - To work out at any cost can do more harm than good. To have to stick to a precise nutrition plan can be risky. A smart approach to training allows for positive adaptations. If you have become a bit obsessed with rules, strict schedules and a perfect plan, I encourage you to become more mentally flexible and less of a perfectionist. I'll share a secret with you - you can still have a "perfect" training session or race, even if everything doesn't go as planned. If you find yourself racing at an intensity that you did not train for and cannot sustain, be prepared for nutrition-related problems. Unfortunately, consuming extra energy gels, sport beans and high-calorie drinks at the aid stations will not give you energy to maintain an unsustainable/untrained effort. Sadly, we can't blame everything on nutrition.
  • Fear of failure - When you don't reach your goals, an effort feels harder than it should or things don’t go as you planned, the disappointment from your performance can easily be interpreted as a “failure.” Once you hold a negative image of yourself and you beat yourself up for lack of success, it's easy to feel less of yourself and doubt your ability to improve.  Fear of failure can be detrimental to your athletic success. Regardless of fitness ability, successful athletes will push themselves out of their comfort zone and take smart risks. While this doesn't mean being careless or making bad choices, it's important to recognize that sometimes your decisions will pay off and sometimes they won’t - but that is part of racing. Taking too many risks is not necessarily a good thing but it is a fundamental component of working your way to success. For many athletes, the thought of making a mistake or having a bad workout or race is so terrifying that they would rather stay in their comfort zone and do as little as possible to avoid the risk of embarrassment or failure. As an athlete, there will be times when you will be challenged. There will be times when you give your best effort and the result will not what you had hoped for. There will be times when you struggle and question why you are doing what you are doing. There will be times when you are in the shape of your life but life gives you a scenario that is far from ideal. When things don't go as planned, welcome this as an opportunity to learn and grow from the experience. You learn by making mistakes. If you want to become better, you need to remove the fear of failing. 

10/7/19

It's IM Kona race week!!

The time has finally come for us to say that it's IM Kona race week!! The town has transformed into a bit of a spectacle but that's all because the Ironman World Championship is a big event for triathletes from all over the world. With signage on buildings and triathletes everywhere, it's an exciting experience to be surrounded by so many like-minded, fit and dedicated triathletes. The picture above is from our condo, overlooking the farmers market and the Ironman Expo. It's always a beautiful site to see the big cruise ships settling in for the day. 



On Friday evening, we ventured out to White Sands Beach (just past the airport) for a relaxing dip in the ocean and some snorkeling (we used our pool snorkels). We timed it perfectly as it was a bit cloudy and in the late afternoon to minimize our time out in the direct sunlight. We have been using lots of sunscreen to prevent burning. 


It was so great to welcome our athlete Ericka to town. This is her first IM Kona (second time to the big island) so it's super fun to share our insider details, tips and tricks that we have learned over the years. We parked at the energy lab and started our ride from there. We did a 1:40 hr ride on the Queen K and included 4 x 10 minute IM effort intervals w/ 3 min EZ spin between. The wind was much less than the past few days so it was much less physically taxing. After the ride we did a 30-35 minute run in the energy lab. Karel and I noticed that our HR was responding a bit better in the heat. I wore my cooling towel for this run and it helped tremendously as it holds water and I could give it a squeeze anytime to keep myself cool. I have also been consuming way more fluids than normal - for a 30 minute run, I go through 10 ounce water and 10 ounce sport drink (skratch). After the brick, Karel and I went to the grocery again to stock up on more food. 



On Saturday evening, we all (including Erick's husband Tim) went for a dip in the ocean. It was super casual as I didn't even wear a swim cap and just had on a two piece bathing suit. We swam about 20 minutes, with stops to look at fishes. It was nice to finish the swim as the sun was setting. 



Sunday morning was a light day of training with only a swim and run. We were done training by 10am, which meant a lot of relaxing for the rest of the day. Since race week is going to be super crazy, chaotic and busy, it was nice to almost feel a bit bored on Sunday. 




On Sunday morning, we walked to the pier around 6am to pick up our packet for the Ho'ala Ironman Training Swim. We have participated in this swim for the past few years and it's always a great way to shake off (or swim off) some pre-race nerves, get fully acclimated to the salty water and to swim in a big mass of triathletes. For this event, the course is almost the exact set-up to the Ironman race day course except on race day, there are more buoys (for this event, there are only buoys on the way out but no buoys on the way back) and on race day, the finish is at the pier entrance. For this event, we finish on the other side of the pier - closer to the King K hotel. 




Karel and I spent about 10 minutes warming up and floating around and positioning ourselves to the outside (left) of the buoys, about 15 yards out. Once the horn went off, it was a fast take-out effort to keep up with the masses. Surprisingly, I didn't get swum over and I felt like I was able to find clean water to keep good swimming mechanics. I swam pretty hard for the first 1000 yards and then settled into a rhythm until the 2nd turn buoy. I reached the 2nd turn buoy and as usual, the water felt much slower with a bit more of a chop. I didn't find the water choppy but it was certainly a bit slower on the way back. Because there were no buoys to sight off of, I was using the tall electrical post behind the hotel for sighting until the kayak/lifeguards were pushing us far left. I wasn't sure if there was some new turn buoy before the swim exit so I followed the pack. But then we started to zig zag back toward the pier so not sure why we were pushed away from the kayak people. Oh well - all good experience to work with others but also to have to sight often. I finished the swim with a strong effort at the end, otherwise, I felt like it was all very strong but sustainable. I was much slower coming back but ended up with a swim time of 58:17. I really wanted to see 57 minutes but maybe that will have to wait until race day. Karel swam amazingly well with his best ever non-wetsuit swim in the ocean of 1:01.21. He really pushed hard at the end but otherwise he felt really good in the water. And our athlete Ericka also did the swim (not as an official participant) and she had a huge PR of 1:02! It was a great day for everyone. 


It was nice to spend some time with the JD crew before and after the swim. Even though we are coached by Cait Snow, we are part of Julie Dibens coaching company which has been great to have 4 eyes watching us (but Cait is the one who designs and oversees our training). We also joined some of Julie's athletes in the energy lab for a post swim run. Karel did 42 minutes and I ran an easy 25 minutes. The goal for both of us was to keep the run very aerobic. Karel was able to keep his HR in the low to mid 140's and I managed to keep my heart rate at an average of 129 bpm - a BIG improvement from the 150+ HR I experienced during my first run on the island. 


As for the rest of the day, it was rather low key. A lot of laying around, spending time on the computer, eating and more laying around. We spent some time with our athlete Roman (Karel's friend from Czech) who just arrived yesterday. We had a light dinner at Lava Java where Roman and Karel enjoyed some Poke with a non-alcoholic beer. I enjoyed a salad with tofu - it was delish!









10/4/19

Training in Kona


Compared to years past, it feels much warmer than before. Although the temperature only reads around 86 degrees in the forecast, it's much more hot under the scorching sun. Coupled with the lava and heat radiating off the ground, it's hotter than hot here. The wind has also been rather gusty. All this said - IM Kona will be living up to its epically challenging standards if it stays like this on race day. 

Since arriving to Kona on Sunday, we have had some quality training sessions on the Big Island. We are staying in town behind the expo/farmers market which makes it easy to train right from our doorstop. However, due to the traffic and debris covering the shoulder of the road, we have been driving away from town to start most of our workouts. Also, because the local Kona aquatic center is closed right now, we have to drive ~20 minutes south of the island to use the local high school pool (which is free).

The biggest adjustment has been the heat - which is the biggest stressor on our body right now. Even though we have been training in the heat, it just doesn't compare to the Kona sun. Our heart rate is much more elevated while running and we consume much more fluids than normal. The salt water is a welcomed change as it's so nice to float without a wetsuit. Plus, the water is really clear which makes for an aquarium feel when swimming.

Our training volume is less than in weeks past but the frequency and intensity is still just what we are use to. This week hasn't felt much like "tapering" because of the added stress of travel, the heat and the wind but next week is rather light with training, which will really help sharpen up our body and mind.

Here's a recap of our training over the past few days:

Sunday: Travel day, no training. A 2.5 hour drive to Atlanta, 5 hour flight to LA and another 5 hour flight to Kona. Arrived to Kona around 9pm Kona time, went to the grocery and in bed around 11pm Kona time.
Monday: 30 minute ocean swim + 1:20 chill spin
Tuesday: 2:20 bike (starting from the entrance energy lab parking lot) w/ 2 rounds of 4 x 5 min at IM effort. Followed by a 35 minute run in the energy lab (with 6 x 30 sec pick ups followed by 20 sec EZ jog, 10 sec walk). Oh and this was my very first run outside since IM Canada and first run workout outside in over 10 weeks! Wahoo!
Wednesday: 30 minute easy jog along Ali'i drive. Then a 5000 yard swim. The pool was very crowded but we shared a lane with a few male pros who kept things very organized so that we could still do our workout. The workout was 15 x 200's in sets of 5, 4, 3, 2, and then 1 x 200 all with 100 backstroke between. We changed up our gear throughout (swim, buoy, paddles/buoy, paddles, swim). It was a tough workout but one we have done a few times before and I really like it. Oh and each set of 200's was descending on a cycle but we had to adjust the cycle to keep things organized in our lane. It was a bit chaotic at times which made for great open water practice.
Thursday: 2:40 bike with 4 rounds of 4 minutes very hard, followed by 15 minutes at IM effort and then another 3 rounds of 4 minutes very hard. We drove to the Mauna Lani parking lot which sits off the Queen K hwy (about 28 miles North of town) to start our bike workout. The nice thing about this location is that it's a closer way to get to and from Hawi and there is a market in the parking lot for post ride food. The wind was incredibly strong but what was more mentally draining was the cross wind. We were both getting tossed around although Karel managed a lot better than me with his comfort level. When we got to the turn at Kawaihae, I decided to turn around and do my intervals closer to Mauna Lani where it was still windy but I was not spending so much energy trying to stay upright on my bike. Karel did his workout in the Hawi section - which he said was very windy but it helped to just push hard on the pedals to keep the bike in a stable position. After the ride, we each did a brick run. I did 40 minutes (Karel did 45 minutes) and the set was 10 minutes easy and then 3 rounds of 5 minutes faster than IM effort, 5 minutes slower than IM effort). After each segment of 10 minutes, I walked for 20 sec. I found it a little easier to control my heart rate for this workout compared to Tuesday although it was crazy hot. I went through 20 ounce of fluid (10 ounce of that was 80 calories Skratch) in 30 minutes so I had to stop and refill my flasks at 35 minutes to make it to 40 minutes. After the workout we stocked up on more food.
Friday: 50 minute ocean swim. The water was a little choppy but I loved every stroke. I just love swimming in the ocean and I am finding it less exhausting in years past - thanks to Cait making sure I arrived to Kona very swim fit! There were several orange buoys set up so we used the first few buoys as warm up and then did several pyramids of 15,20,35, 30 strokes hard each followed by the same amount of strokes easy. This was a nice way to change up the rhythm of the stroke. We swam 25 minutes out and 25 minutes back. After the swim, we both had a massage from our coaches massage therapist which was amazing.

The plan for the weekend is a 90 minute ride followed by a 30 min brick run on Saturday and the Kona practice swim (2.4 mile swim on the course) on Sunday. And then it's race week!!

Here are a few pics from the past few days. You can also check out my social media pages on Facebook and Instagram. Thanks for following along!